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Rinelle Harper case: Parents of attacked Winnipeg teen to talk publicly

11/13/2014 09:10 EST | Updated 01/13/2015 05:59 EST
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The parents of Rinelle Harper, the 16-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted and left for dead near Winnipeg's Assiniboine River, are expected to talk publicly for the first time.

Caesar and Julie Harper, along with some aboriginal leaders, will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. CT Thursday in the Winnipeg boardroom for Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), an organization representing most First Nations in the province's north.

Harper is recovering in hospital after she was attacked on Nov. 7.

She is from Garden Hill First Nation in northern Manitoba, but has been living in Winnipeg with family while attending Southeast Collegiate, a high school for aboriginal students that is owned and operated by nine northern Manitoba First Nations.

Winnipeg police announced on Wednesday that two people — Justin Hudson, 20, and a 17-year-old boy — have been charged with attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon.

Police said the girl was out with friends in Winnipeg's South Broadway area when she became separated from the group.

Two males struck up a conversation with her, and the three of them went for a walk. Once under the Midtown Bridge, in downtown, the pair allegedly "turned on her," police ​Supt. Danny Smyth ​said Wednesday, adding Harper was attacked early Saturday, just after 12 a.m., and ended up in the frigid river.

Soaking wet and wearing few clothes, she managed to crawl out of the river a little upstream from where the assault happened, Smyth said. She was then attacked a second time, beaten with a weapon, and "left for dead," he said.

Harper was found unconscious by a passerby on the Assiniboine Riverwalk at 7 a.m. Saturday. She was rushed to hospital in critical condition and is now in stable condition.

Police said the two males then went on to attack a 23-year-old woman in a similar way. At about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, in the area of Portage Avenue and Sherbrook Street, in the city's West End, 

The males struck up a conversation with the woman before attacking her with a weapon. She was forced into a back lane where she was sexually assaulted by both men, police said.

They left her there unconscious, but she was later able to get to a nearby residence and contact police, Smyth said.

Hudson and the 17-year-old have been charged with aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon in that case.

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