US & Canada

Rehtaeh Parsons: Child porn charges in cyber-bully death

A mourner holds a photograph of Rehtaeh Parsons (April 2013)
Image caption Rehtaeh's death prompted outrage and debate about cyber-bullying

Two men have been charged with child pornography crimes in the alleged cyber-bullying of a teenaged Canadian girl who later took her own life.

Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, of Nova Scotia, killed herself in April after being taunted over a photo of her alleged rape by four boys, her mother has said.

Two 18-year-old men were arrested on Thursday in connection with the photograph.

The men, who have not been named, will be prosecuted in a juvenile court.

"We hope that today's arrests help the community to heal," Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Chief Superintendent Roland Wells of the Halifax district said in a statement on Thursday evening.

"A young girl has died in what was a tragic set of circumstances. We all need to reflect on how we as a community can come together in Rehtaeh's memory and see what we can do to work together to support our youth."

One of the men was charged with two counts of distribution of child pornography, the other with one count each of making child pornography and distribution of child pornography.

The RCMP said the names of the accused would not be released because they were youths at the time of the alleged offence, and warned Halifax residents who believe they know the identities of the accused not to release them on penalty of prosecution, nor to take vigilante action.

'Never left alone'

According to Rehtaeh's mother Leah Parsons, the Nova Scotia teen went to a party in 2011, when she was 15, and became inebriated after drinking vodka.

The girl told her parents that while she was heavily intoxicated, she was raped by four boys, and someone took a photograph of it.

The photograph was circulated online, and soon her schoolmates began taunting her over the photograph. The bullying was incessant, her mother said.

"She was never left alone," Ms Parsons told CBC News in April after Rehtaeh's suicide.

"Her friends turned against her, people harassed her, boys she didn't know started texting her and Facebooking asking her to have sex with them since she had had sex with their friends. It just never stopped."

Rehtaeh died in April in hospital, several days after attempting suicide.

Police at first said they did not have grounds to make any arrests in connection with the alleged rape or the photograph. The investigation was reopened in April after police said they received new information.

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