Suspect in Rehtaeh Parsons case allegedly made death threats against her father
Corinne Ton That and Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Saturday, April 19, 2014 1:14PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 19, 2014 10:34PM EDT
The father of Rehtaeh Parsons, a Halifax teen who died by suicide last April, says he was the victim of online death threats made by one of the men charged in connection with his daughter’s case.
Halifax police released a statement Saturday saying a 19-year-old man from Eastern Passage, N.S., is facing charges of uttering death threats and criminal harassment following a complaint from a 49-year-old man. Neither the suspect nor the victim are named in the statement.
Parsons’ father, Glen Canning, confirmed to CTV News on Saturday that he was the victim of the alleged online attack, which took place last August.
Canning also confirmed the alleged suspect is one of two men accused of child pornography-related offences in relation to Parsons’ case.
Canning also said he felt “relieved” but not surprised when police called him Thursday to inform him of the charges.
“I was actually expecting that kid to be … the person they identified,” Canning said in a phone interview with CTV News’s Katie Simpson.
The charges stem from a comment posted on his YouTube channel last August, according to Canning.
“It said basically, ‘I know your face, I know where you work, I know your car, I know your house, and if you don’t shut up, you’re going to join your daughter,’ ” Canning said.
Canning also addressed the matter on his blog Saturday.
“The recent charges filed are in relation to a death threat I received last summer on my YouTube channel,” he wrote. “I am relieved this person has been identified and charged I do think it’s sad someone so young has made such a mess out of their life and chosen to lash out in such a way.”
Canning said Saturday the situation makes his daughter’s tragic death that much worse.
“Especially considering the person involved here is also a person involved with tormenting my daughter. Realizing it’s the same person, it just almost leaves you speechless,” Canning said. “What a mess of a person they are. It’s a shame.”
Canning also said with it being Easter weekend, news of the charges came at a particularly difficult time.
“I just take it a moment at a time; it’s sad but also at the same time, I have a lot of very happy memories of Easters with my daughter,” Canning said.
In Saturday’s statement, Halifax Regional Police and RCMP said a recent investigation led to the arrest a 19-year-old man in Eastern Passage, N.S., on Thursday evening.
“On Aug. 2, 2013, police received a complaint from a 49-year-old male who was threatened online,” police wrote. “Threats from the suspect were posted underneath a YouTube video posted in August by the victim. Other threats were made via another side called WordPress.”
Police said they seized a computer and electronic storage devices from a home in Eastern Passage after executing search warrants to obtain IP addresses “and other information.”
The man will be appearing in Dartmouth provincial court on May 20.
Parsons was 17 when she took her own life in April 2013. Her family said she was sexually assaulted by four boys at a party when she was 15 years old, with digital photos of the incident circulating on social media afterward, leading to months of bullying. Two teens are facing child pornography charges in relation to the case.
News of the arrest comes days after RCMP confirmed that a Dutch man is facing extortion and child pornography charges in connection with 15-year-old Amanda Todd’s case. The British Columbia teen also took her own life in 2012 after enduring months of online sexual exploitation, stalking and cyberbullying.
Canning said Saturday his daughter’s case, along with Todd’s, has “made a huge change” by encouraging victims to speak out and motivating authorities to act when allegations surface.
“I think speaking out about Rehtaeh’s case, and Carol Todd speaking out about her daughter, has gone a long way to change the responses that we’re getting for issues of cyber-harassment against people,” Canning said.
Privacy lawyer David Fraser said the high-profile cases serve as a lesson to those who post online.
“The same sorts of things that can be criminal in the real world -- if you make a threat to somebody to their face – those are still crimes when you do them online,” Fraser said.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau