N.S. teen took her own life after rape, bullying, mother says
Published Tuesday, April 9, 2013 3:07PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 9, 2013 7:34PM EDT
A Nova Scotia teen took her own life after she was raped by four boys and then endured a year-and-a-half of bullying by her schoolmates, the girl’s mother says.
Leah Parsons says her daughter Rehtaeh attempted suicide last Thursday and was taken off life support Sunday evening.
Parsons told CTV Atlantic that her daughter’s ordeal began one evening in November 2011, when she went with another girl to a friend’s home, where they met up with four boys.
“The group began drinking vodka straight,” Parsons said, and at one point Rehtaeh was alone with the boys.
“Rehtaeh doesn’t remember all of it,” Parsons said. “She remembers a guy leading her up the stairs, guys taking turns on top of her.” The boys also took pictures of the attack, as well as her throwing up out a window.
The photographs made the rounds among students at Cole Harbour District High School, and Rehtaeh was quickly shunned and harassed.
“One girl who was her friend put on her (Facebook) status: ‘Sluts need to leave this school anyway,’ Parsons said. “Just bullying, boys that she didn’t know sending her messages (saying) ‘Do you want to have fun? You did it with my friends, why don’t we get together?’ It didn’t stop.”
In her interview with CTV and in a detailed account of her daughter’s ordeal posted to Facebook, Parsons expressed her disappointment that no charges were laid in the case.
Local RCMP looked into the incident, but found there were no grounds to charge any of the boys.
“They completed their investigation and in consultation with the Crown there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges,” Halifax RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae told CTV.
On Tuesday, Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry said he would not order a review of the investigation because there was no indication police failed to follow proper procedures.
In her Facebook post, Parsons said the day of Rehtaeh’s attack “changed the lives of our family forever.”
Parsons wrote that she immediately left her job in order to support her daughter, and has been on a “journey of emotional turmoil ever since.”
Parsons wrote that her daughter “was suddenly shunned by almost everyone she knew.” The harassment her daughter faced was so severe that she eventually switched schools in an attempt to “start anew.”
“She struggled emotionally with depression and anger,” Parsons wrote. “Her thoughts of suicide began and fearing for her life, she placed herself in a hospital in an attempt to get help. She stayed there for almost six weeks.”
The bullying continued in Halifax and then when she returned home, Parsons said, a few new friends stepped forward to offer their support. Parsons said police then informed the family of the results of their investigation.
“One year later the police conclude their investigation to state that it comes down to ‘he said, she said’ they believed the boys raped her but the proof in a court of law was difficult to gather,” Parsons wrote.
Parsons said her daughter tried to get her life back on track, but suffered from mood swings. On April 4, she locked herself in the bathroom and attempted to take her own life.
“Rehtaeh is gone today because of the four boys that thought that raping a 15 year old girl was OK and to distribute a photo to ruin her spirit and reputation would be fun,” Parsons wrote. “Secondly, all the bullying and messaging and harassment that never let up are also to blame. Lastly, the justice system failed her. Those are the people that took the life of my beautiful girl.”
A funeral service for Rehtaeh will be held on Saturday.
With a report from CTV Atlantic’s Kelland Sundahl