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Chronicle Herald Publishes Rehtaeh Parsons' Name, Breaks Publication Ban

11/24/2014 09:02 EST | Updated 11/25/2014 02:59 EST
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A Nova Scotia newspaper has defied a judge’s publication ban over a “prominent child pornography case” by publishing the victim’s name – Rehtaeh Parsons.

The Chronicle Herald published a story Monday about a second man who entered a guilty plea to one count of child pornography in the high-profile case.

“We’ve decided to publish the name of the victim in this story, despite a court-ordered ban,” an editor's note explains. “We believe its in the public interest in this unique case, given the widespread recognition of Rehtaeh Parsons’ name, and given the good that can come, and has already come, from free public debate over sexual consent and the other elements of her story.”

Parsons’ father Glen Canning praised the publication’s decision to publicize his daughter’s name.

Canning had long been vocal in his opposition to the provincial court’s decision to ban his daughter’s name from media reports on the court case.

“No one did much to protect Rehtaeh when it would have mattered so to apply a ban meant to protect her now is a little late and frankly, it’s insulting,” wrote Canning in a blog post.

Parsons, 17, was taken off life support after a suicide attempt in April 2013. Her family says the teen had endured months of bullying after a photo was circulated at her school of her being sexually assaulted by a male giving a thumbs-up sign.

Nancy Rubin, a media lawyer representing four media outlets including the CBC, filed a court challenge to lift the publication ban in May. The publication ban was upheld.

American press noticed the ban across Canadian media. Parsons’ mother Leah told BuzzFeed it was as if her daughter is “being silenced for the second time.” Slate also pointed out the muzzle, saying “Rehtaeh Parsons was the most famous victim in Canada. Now, journalists can’t even say her name.”

In September, Judge Jamie Campbell implemented the publication ban, citing section 486.4(3) of the Criminal Code, a portion of the law granting protection to victims of child pornography under the age of 18 from being identified.

“The young person whose identity is purported to be protected by the publication ban is more than just well-known," Campbell outlined in his decision. He quoted Rubin, acknowledging Rehtaeh “achieved quasi-celebrity status where she is known by just her first name.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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