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Canada police reopen investigation into teen's alleged gang rape

April 12, 2013|By Emily Alpert
  • Several hundred people attend a community vigil to remember Rehtaeh Parsons at Victoria Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Several hundred people attend a community vigil to remember Rehtaeh Parsons… (Andrew Vaughan / Canadian…)

Canadian police are reopening their investigation into the alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old girl who later hanged herself, saying new information has come to light, according to Canadian news media.

Police have faced a torrent of criticism for not pressing charges against four youths accused by relatives of Rehtaeh Parsons, whose alleged assault, continued bullying and later suicide spurred outrage in Canada and abroad. Her parents said classmates shared photos of the attack online but that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told them there weren’t grounds to bring the case to court.

“My daughter wasn’t bullied to death, she was disappointed to death. Disappointed in people she thought she could trust, her school and the police," her father, Glen Canning, wrote in a plea for action after her death.

“For the love of God do something,” he concluded.

On Friday, police announced new information had led a joint unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Halifax Regional Police to reopen the case, according to the Canadian Press.

The breakthrough followed growing outrage over the case, which parallels recent cases in Ohio and California. As of Friday, more than 120,000 people had signed an online petition calling for an independent inquiry into the Canadian case.

Hackers aligned with the activist collective Anonymous said Friday that they had found “public statements” by one of the boys saying he had sex with Rehtaeh while she threw up.

Cpl. Scott MacRae of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told reporters the new information did not come from an online source, instead citing a person who had come forward.

Jason Barnes, Rehtaeh's stepfather, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.  that the reopening of the case meant justice had another chance to prevail.

"They have another opportunity to do it properly now, with the global eyes looking in on the situation," Barnes said.

The Nova Scotia Justice Department said this week that it would reexamine its yearlong investigation of the case. Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter has tasked a government minister with coordinating responses from several government departments. The Halifax Regional School Board has also been asked to review how it handled the events leading up to Rehtaeh's death. 

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