POLITICS

Rehtaeh Parsons review delayed until court cases against accused teens settled

11/07/2013 08:58 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
HALIFAX - A review of how police and Nova Scotia's Public Prosecution Service initially handled the Rehtaeh Parsons case has been delayed until the court cases against two teens charged in the matter are settled.

Murray Segal, a former chief prosecutor in Ontario who was appointed in August to lead the review, said as he proceeded with his work he concluded that it would be best to wait until the charges against the accused were dealt with in court.

"I think it would be a reasonable expectation that I speak to some of the individuals involved in the original investigation," Segal said Thursday.

"It's possible that those people may be witnesses in the outstanding proceedings, I don't know. So to that end, my preference has become just to let the court proceedings go on in the normal course and as soon as it's over, then I will resume my work."

Four days before Segal was named to lead the review, police charged one 18-year-old man with two counts of distributing child pornography and another 18-year-old man with making and distributing child pornography. Their identities have not been released as they were minors at the time of the alleged offences.

When he was appointed, Segal said he would also consider as part of his review the impact technology is having on young people and their families, as well as their interaction with the justice system and police.

Justice Minister Lena Diab said she approved the request for a delay to ensure the review is inclusive and produces meaningful recommendations. She said she hoped the delay wouldn't prolong the process too much.

"I'm going to have to trust the court system and judiciary to move this along as they see fit," she said. "It's best to have a comprehensive report that will help us in this province."

Diab and Segal said they spoke with the Parsons family and were told they supported the delay. No one from the family was available for comment.

Rehtaeh Parsons was 17 when she was taken off life-support after attempting suicide in April.

Her family alleges she was sexually assaulted by four boys in November 2011 and then bullied for months after a digital photo of the alleged assault was passed around her school in Halifax.

Police said they looked into the allegations of sexual assault and an inappropriate photo but after consulting with the province's Public Prosecution Service, they concluded there weren't enough grounds to lay charges.

A week after Parson's death, police reopened their investigation after receiving what they said was new and credible information in the case from someone willing to co-operate with them.