Nova Scotia

Rehtaeh Parsons case to get independent review

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter announced Monday there will be an independent review of the Rehtaeh Parsons case.

A Facebook group in support of boys involved in alleged assault taken down

Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter announced Monday there will be an independent review of the Rehtaeh Parsons case.

But he said the review would not be launched until the recently reopened police investigation into the case is over.

On April 7, Rehtaeh, 17, was taken off life support after trying to take her own life a few days earlier. She was buried on Saturday.

According to Parsons' mother, four boys sexually assaulted her daughter when she was 15. Rehtaeh was then said to have been mocked by classmates, enduring relentless harassment and humiliation after a photo of the attack was circulated at her school and on social media. Police investigated, but no charges were ever laid.

Dexter announced an independent review Monday of both the police investigation and the Crown attorney’s office that advised police not to lay charges against the four teens involved in Parsons’ alleged sex assault.

"Fundamentally, we want to be independent, both of the Department of Justice and of the police departments and allow it to be, as I say, fully independent," said Dexter.

In the past week, more than 365,000 people from around the world have signed a petition demanding an independent inquiry into how police handled the case.

Dexter said the province is still working on the scope of the review and who will conduct it. The premier has also called for a separate review of how the Halifax school board handled the case after it learned about the police investigation 1½ years ago. He said that review will begin almost immediately.

Facebook group supporting boys removed

On Sunday, dozens of people, including Rehateh’s mother, demonstrated outside of Halifax police headquarters.  

The event was planned earlier in the week, before police announced that they were reopening the investigation.

Across the street from that demonstration, about a dozen or so people, mainly teens, held a counter-protest in support of the boys involved in the alleged sexual assault against Rehtaeh.

A Facebook Group set up in support of the boys accused of sexual assault was shut down on Monday after police raised concerns.

The Facebook group was called Speak the Truth. On the page friends and family posted messages of support for the teenagers saying what happened that night was consensual.

Some posts named at least one of the boys.

The group had grown to almost 130 members when early Monday afternoon the curator shut it down.

The curator wrote, "Sorry guys but I'm taking down the support group because the police have asked that it be removed due to the fact this is ‘cause names to get leaked out and spread around."

The members of the group were mainly friends of the boys but there were also adults that lent their support.

"Chin up boys, truth will prevail. My heart goes out to Rehtaeh who felt she had to take her own life to end her misery but I believe this is ‘cause of the bullying she endured," read one posting.

Another read, "One thing that came out of this support group, the boys can actually see who would be there for them, and that’s all of us."

Police confirmed they spoke to the woman who started the group and expressed concerns for the boys’ safety if their names got out.

Police suggested the family might want to reconsider the idea of a Facebook group, but said they did not tell them to shut it down.