Halifax police reopen Rehtaeh Parsons case

HALIFAX – RCMP say investigators have “new and credible information” that is causing them to reopen the Rehtaeh Parsons case.

Mounties said in a news release Friday afternoon the person who brought the information to police was willing to cooperate in the investigation and would “verify who they are.”

MacRae said he couldn’t go into the specifics of the investigation because of the ages of everyone involved in the case.

Halifax RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae emphasized the new information “did not come from an online source.”

In the days since Parsons’ death, her story quickly spread across the globe.  Members of the online group Anonymous said they would release the names of four boys, who allegedly raped then-15-year-old Parsons in Nov. 2011 and later distributed photographs of the assault, if police did not reopen the case.

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That prompted police to warn the public not to engage in vigilante justice.

“People want justice. We understand that. Police want justice, but we can’t let people talk about taking justice into their own hands,” MacRae said.

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Shortly after police announced the reopening of the case, Anonymous issued its own statement thanking the public for putting pressure on authorities.

“Anonymous of Halifax would like to thank the collective at large for working diligently to bring the eyes of the world upon our community. Without your help, there would be no justice for Rehteah Parsons,” the statement—shared on Twitter—read.

Anonymous’ Halifax contingent also distanced itself from a planned rally outside Halifax Regional Police headquarters, set for Sunday: “We must express our concern at the calls for protest scheduled this Sunday at 2pm in front of the Halifax Regional Police headquarters. This protest has been scheduled without consultation of the local collective, and thus has no organizers.”

The statement went onto say Parsons’ family wanted only expressions of “love and tolerance, a characteristic of Rehteah’s nature,” and encouraged people not to seek retribution.

More than 250 people turned up to a peaceful, candlelight vigil in Parsons’ honour Thursday night.

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The emotional gathering was attended by Parsons’ cousin, Angela Parsons, who delivered messages on behalf of the family.

“We live in a rape culture where blame is placed on the victim,” she read. “We need strong and compassionate men to step forward and educate young boys —your sons, your brothers, your neighbours—to educate them about respect and empathy.

“One of the worst forms of bullying is shaming. Rehtaeh experienced this first hand,” she said.

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Parsons’ mother, Leah Parsons, went public with her daughter’s suicide in a Facebook post, after the family took the 17-year-old off life support Sunday night.

She hung herself in the bathroom of her Cole Harbour home three days earlier.

Leah Parsons said her daughter endured relentless taunting after a photo of the alleged sexual assault was shared among her peers.

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After an initial investigation, police said they did not have enough evidence to lay charges.

RCMP and Halifax Regional Police investigators are reviewing the new leads, but encourage anyone with information to contact authorities.


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