Teen charged in Rehtaeh Parsons case facing online 'lynch mob': lawyer
Published Thursday, August 15, 2013 6:18AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 15, 2013 10:15PM EDT
The lawyer for one of the teens charged in the Rehtaeh Parsons case suggested Thursday that his client has already been convicted on social media.
"The Internet mavens and some members of the media have acted like a lynch mob in relation to this matter. They have tried and convicted this person without any due process whatsoever,” said Josh Arnold, who represents one of the young men facing child pornography charges.
The accused teens, both 18, made their first court appearance Thursday. One of them has been charged with two counts of distributing child pornography, while the other is charged with distributing and making child pornography.
Their names cannot be released because they were minors when the alleged offences occurred. Their case was put over until Sept.19 because their lawyers are asking for full disclosure of evidence from the Crown.
Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old Nova Scotia girl, was taken off life support in April after a suicide attempt. Her family said the girl endured months of cyberbullying after a photo of her allegedly being raped made the rounds at school.
Police have said that there is no evidence to support sexual assault charges in the case.
Parsons’ parents were not in court yesterday, but her uncle blasted Arnold’s comments.
"To have people like this man saying those boys have been prosecuted in the media – that hasn't been the case,” Michael Parsons told reporters outside court.
“These boys have not been prosecuted in the media. This case has been brought forward in the media because it was only through the media participation that this case is even being looked at today.”
The uncle also said he has no faith in the police and the prosecutors because “they totally dropped the ball.”
When police initially investigated the photo that was circulating and Parsons’ alleged rape, they said there was insufficient evidence to lay charges.
But after Parsons’ death sparked outrage across the country, the case was reopened and investigators said they received new information that led to the arrests.
Murray Segal, a former chief prosecutor in Ontario, is now reviewing how the case was handled. He said understanding the role technology and social media played will be a “critical” piece of his investigation.
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Marie Adsett and files from The Canadian Press