RCMP reopening Rehtaeh Parsons case based on new information
Published Friday, April 12, 2013 12:51PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 12, 2013 10:20PM EDT
The RCMP is reopening the investigation into the death of a Nova Scotia teen based on new information they say did not come from hacker group Anonymous.
“In light of new and credible information that has recently been brought forward to police, HRM Partners in Policing are reopening the investigation involving Rehtaeh Parsons,” the statement said.
“This information did not come from an on-line source. The person providing the information is willing to verify who they are, the reason they’re providing it and is willing to work with police as part of the investigation,” it continued.
Parsons, 17, died from suicide after enduring what her family says was months of bullying after an alleged rape. Photos of the incident were allegedly distributed online, and she was taunted because of it, her mother said.
Anonymous on Friday released what it said was a list of "facts" in relation to the case.
The group forwarded the information to the RCMP, as well as a screen grab of someone allegedly confessing to sexually assaulting the teen.
It is not known whether the screen grab is authentic.
While Anonymous claims they won’t publicly release the identities of suspects out of respect for the victim’s family, they have urged the RCMP to act.
"We urge the RCMP to act like guardians,” the group said in a release, and “set the proper example for the young men of Nova Scotia and send a clear message: This behavior will not be tolerated in our communities.”
It isn't clear how Anonymous obtained the information released Friday, or whether it has been independently verified.
Meanwhile, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson warned against “vigilante justice” as anger about the case swells.
"We're very concerned about vigilante response to the case in Halifax. That's not the way to get to the bottom of these things," Paulson told reporters Friday.
"I think it's serious in this case because it seems to be mounting in its momentum."
Paulson added that the RCMP is open to working with Anonymous but expressed doubt that would happen, as the groups’ members would have to remove their masks.
According to the RCMP, misinformation is circulating on both traditional and social media in relation to the case and that it is not always accurate or based on factual evidence.
Questions have arisen about why the group would involve itself in the case. Anonymous attempted to answer the question in its statement Friday.
"Is it necessary for Anonymous to be involved in this case? Yes. For a moment let's set aside the theatrics, the masks and the labels. We are group of concerned citizens that have recognized an injustice in the system," the statement said.
"We have taken it upon ourselves to point out that injustice to the public and we are asking the police to correct their incompetent handling of this case."
Jon Blanchard, a Halifax-based IT professional who provides tech support for the group, called it “extremely exciting” that “the RCMP is at least listening.”
Speaking to CTV News, Blanchard described Anonymous as “a group of completely independent people and teams who see something that outrages them and collectively apply their talents to what is called an operation, in this case, justice for Rehtaeh."
He added that most of the group’s members are not in North America.
“They’re not onshore, they’re not in Canada,” he said.
On Thursday evening, dozens of people gathered in a Halifax park for a candlelight vigil in honour of Parsons.
Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage were in the crowd.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also addressed Parsons' tragic death Thursday, saying that bullying is often serious – and criminal.
Nova Scotia has set up a Web page for anyone wishing to express condolences and send sympathies to Parsons' family.
Parsons’ funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
With files from The Canadian Press