The Nova Scotia government plans to look into the way Halifax Regional Police handled the case of Rehtaeh Parsons, the Cole Harbour girl who took her own life after she was bullied online.
Later this morning, Justice Minister Ross Landry is expected to elaborate on his government's plan to review the police investigation.
According to Rehtaeh’s family, four boys sexually assaulted her when she was 15. The teen was then said to have been mocked by classmates, and endured relentless harassment and humiliation after a photo of the attack was circulated at school and on social media.
On April 7, Rehtaeh, then 17, was taken off life-support after attempting to take her own life a few days earlier.
No charges were laid after the initial investigation. The case was reopened earlier this year, however, and last week, two 18-year-old boys were charged with child pornography offences. They are expected to appear in court later this week.
One of the many questions in the Rehtaeh case is why no charges were laid until now.
Police said they had never interviewed any of the four accused before Thursday. They said one of the boys came to the station once, but didn’t offer any information.
"A big part of the story at the time was the failure of the police to lay charges and prosecute — and stories that were circulating widely in the media and otherwise that the investigation might not have been properly carried out,” said internet privacy lawyer David Fraser.
He said the reach of investigation should be wider and include the mental health care given to Rehtaeh by the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.
Halifax police insist there has been a lot of public misinformation about the Rehtaeh case. They say they plan to co-operate fully.
The province enacted anti-cyberbullying legislation the day before the child porn charges were laid last week. The new legislation gives victims the ability to sue alleged cyberbullies, or their parents if those accused are minors.
"One of the recommendations, which I understand may be happening soon, is education for parents so they can better understand social media technology and their role as reasonable supervising parents,” said Wayne MacKay, who chaired an anti-cyberbullying task force in Nova Scotia.
The two accused will be in youth court on Aug. 15. They cannot be identified, because they were minors at the time of the alleged offences