Rehtaeh Parsons – Case Timeline

by Glen Canning

Rehtaeh Parsons – Case Timeline

This is the timeline provided as part of the Independent Review of the Police and Prosecution Response to the Rehtaeh Parsons Case.

April 7, 2013 — Seventeen-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons is taken off life-support and dies three days after she tried to kill herself following an alleged sexual assault by four boys at a party in November 2011. Her family says Rehtaeh was then bullied for months after a digital photo of the alleged attack was passed around her school in Halifax.

April 9 — Leah Parsons speaks out about her daughter’s death, saying she is dissatisfied with the RCMP’s investigation of allegations her daughter was sexually assaulted.

April 12 — The RCMP says it is reopening its investigation of the Parsons case after receiving new evidence, just hours after RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson expresses concerns about “vigilante justice” following the teenager’s death.

April 15 — Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter says the province will launch an independent review of the RCMP’s original investigation of allegations made by Parsons.

May 10 — Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with the relatives of four teenage girls who died after being cyberbullied or lured online. Parsons’ father Glen Canning says Harper promised to take action during the meeting.

June 6 — The Nova Scotia government appoints a director to lead a team of five investigators who will investigate cyberbullying. The creation of the team was announced following Parsons’ death.

Aug. 7 — A new law takes effect in Nova Scotia allowing people to sue if they or their children are being cyberbullied. Victims can also seek a protection order that could place restrictions on or help identify the cyberbully.

Aug. 8 — Two 18-year-old men are charged in the Parsons case. One is charged with two counts of distributing child pornography and the other is charged with making and distributing child pornography.

Aug. 12 — A former Ontario prosecutor is appointed by the Nova Scotia government to conduct an independent review of the handling of the case by police and the provincial Public Prosecution Service. Murray Segal is asked to make recommendations by April 1, but the deadline is later delayed until court cases against the two teens are settled.

Nov. 20 — The federal government introduces a wide-ranging bill designed to make it illegal to distribute intimate images without consent and easier to get such images scrubbed off the Internet.

Dec. 11 — The Nova Scotia government says it will boost the number of adolescent psychiatrists after a report highlighted deficiencies in the mental health care of young people who are seeking help at increasing rates. A review of the mental health system was conducted after an earlier report into Rehtaeh’s case raised concerns about the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.

Sept. 22, 2014 — One of the accused pleads guilty to making child pornography. The Crown drops a second charge of distributing child pornography. He is later given a conditional discharge.

Nov. 24 — The second young man pleads guilty to one count of distributing child pornography.

Dec. 17 — Nova Scotia’s attorney general says no one will be prosecuted for identifying Rehtaeh Parsons as the victim in the child pornography case. A judge placed the mandatory ban on Parsons’ identity in the case of two young men who were charged with child pornography offences.

Jan. 15, 2015 — The second 20-year-old man is ordered to attend counselling, not contact Parsons’s family, not drink or possess alcohol and submit a DNA sample, among other conditions, after pleading guilty to distributing a sexually graphic image of Parsons.

Aug. 25 — Nova Scotia’s anti-cyberbullying law drafted in response to the Parsons’ case is challenged in court as unconstitutional, with a lawyer arguing it needs to be rewritten because it is too broad and allows anything online that hurts somebody’s feelings to be considered an offence.

Oct. 8 — A review of the police and Crown’s handling of the case finds it was reasonable of the Crown to conclude there was no realistic prospect that sexual assault charges would result in conviction. Murray Segal, a former chief prosecutor in Ontario, says the investigation was diligent and thorough but took too long.