POLITICS

Review into police and Crown handling of Rehtaeh Parsons case expected in fall

02/26/2015 12:38 EST | Updated 04/28/2015 05:59 EDT
HALIFAX - A former Ontario chief prosecutor says Nova Scotia police and prosecutors have been forthcoming in his review of their handling of the Rehtaeh Parsons case.

In an update on his review, Murray Segal said Thursday that he has met with members of the province's Public Prosecution Service, Parsons' family and police, and all have been co-operative.

"All of the procedures that we've been asking for we've been receiving and the interviews that we have sought have been provided," Segal told a news conference, adding that he expects to deliver his report by early fall.

"People are being extremely forthright and helpful."

The provincial government ordered the review in August 2013, but it was delayed until legal proceedings involving two men charged in the Parsons' case concluded.

Segal said the bulk of interviews for the review have been completed and that he would return to Ontario on Friday.

He said he needs time to go through the information, which includes police policies and procedures on sexual assault investigations, training curriculum for justice personnel who handle the cases and transcripts of the court cases involving the two convicted men.

"We've also been looking at and struck by the fact that the whole issue of cyberbullying and texting has really taken off in the last number of years, especially amongst youth," said Segal.

"With those kinds of developments in mind, we're looking at how the authorities deal with these kinds of cases, because it is an evolving kind of behaviour... and we may have some recommendations in that respect."

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

Segal wouldn't say what findings, if any, he has already made.

Police charged the men with child pornography offences just four days before Segal was appointed to lead the review.

A 20-year-old man pleaded guilty last November to distributing a sexually graphic image of Parsons, who was 15 years old at the time of the offence.

Another 20-year-old man pleaded guilty to making child pornography by taking a photo of the accused having sex with Parsons, who was taken off life-support after attempting suicide in 2013.

Both men were youths at the time of the offence and were charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The young woman's family alleged that she was sexually assaulted in November 2011 and bullied for months after a digital photo of the alleged assault was passed around her school.

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

The child pornography charges were laid after Parsons died.

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