Rehtaeh Parsons case to be reopened by police
Police say new information in case has come to light
Halifax Regional Police and RCMP say they are reopening the investigation into the case of Rehtaeh Parsons.
Police say new and credible information has been brought forward to the police since the story of the 17-year-old's death was reported in the media.
"The investigators are going to look at that in its entirety, So we're back in business and we're going to continue to move forward and see where that information leads us," said RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae.
Rehtaeh's mother, Leah Parsons, claims her daughter took her own life following months of online bullying from her peers after she was allegedly raped at a party when she was 15.
Parsons said the four boys allegedly involved with her daughter's assault took photos which were circulated via text to people at her school.
Parsons said the original police investigation into her daughter's case involved looking into both the rape allegations and the alleged distribution of child pornography.
An investigative team from the Criminal Investigation Division, a joint team comprised of both HRP and RCMP officers, has been assigned to review the new information.
The new information did not come from an online source, police said in a news release. They said a person has come forward with information. That person is willing to identify themself to police and work with authorities as part of the investigation.
Jason Barnes, Rehtaeh's stepfather, said this is a second chance for justice.
"I just feel it's important to let the public know to let the justice system do its job. I know that justice tried to do its job before and seemed to fail, but they have another opportunity to do it properly now with the global eyes looking in on the situation," he said. "Hopefully now they'll have the chance to do it and the public can leave the justice system to do it and hopefully that they can do it properly this time."
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said in a statement that he welcomed news that the case would be reopened.
"Nova Scotians will be heartened that someone has come forward with credible information, allowing the police to reopen this investigation," said Dexter. "I implore anyone else who may have information to share, to bring it forward."
Social media pledge
Dartmouth High School students reacted with sadness and anger Friday to Rehtaeh's story. She attended nearby Cole Harbour High.
"I was furious because it just painted all the youth as we all are such rude people. We all go on Twitter and gang up on people and do all this horrendous stuff. When in reality that’s not what happened," said 16-year-old Shannon Barry.
"The tone was that, ‘There’s nothing we can do. Kids will be kids, they do this stuff. How can we change all that?’ And I just didn't buy it," said teacher Heather Hughes. "If Martin Luther King said that, where would we be today?"
Rehtaeh's story prompted students at Dartmouth High to pledge to only use social media for positive changes. Students at the school are pledging not to gang up on others and not to post inappropriate photos.
"I just want to make a difference so that people that do get bullied, or are victims, can open up to other people and know there are people that care even if you don't even know them," said 17-year-old Erin Balcom.
"You’ve got to practice what you preach," said 18-year-old Jonny Doucett. "You’ve got to do it yourself. I mean if you’re telling people not to do it and they see that you’re doing it, they’re obviously going to start doing it as well, especially if they look up to you. Just be a positive role model in public, social media and the followers will do the same."
On Monday the students at Dartmouth High School will take the "positive power pledge" for their social media activity and hopefully convince students across the country to do the same thing.