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Oceanside CA 92058
Raped 15 year old girl, FAILED by police, school, prosecutors and classmates, commits suicide
Rehtaeh Parsons. (Family photo)
Rehtaeh Parsons had a goofy sense of humour and loved playing with her little sisters. She wore glasses, had long, dark hair and was a straight-A student whose favourite subject was science.
On Sunday night, the 17-year-old's family took her off life-support.
Three days earlier, on Thursday night, she hanged herself in the bathroom.
It was 17 months before that when the person Rehtaeh once was all changed, her mother wrote Monday on a Facebook memorial page .
She went with a friend to another's home. In that home, she was raped by four young boys, wrote Leah Parsons.
One of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh's school and community, where it quickly went viral.
Rehtaeh, a 15-year-old Cole Harbour District High School student at the time, was shunned, wrote her mother.
They all go to the same school. She couldn't go back to the school, Parsons said Monday in an interview.
Rehtaeh spent the past year and a half trying to handle the fallout from that night, said her mother, who runs a dog rescue.
Her daughter moved from Cole Harbour to Halifax to start anew and she checked into a hospital at one point to cope with anger, depression and thoughts of suicide.
Rehtaeh ultimately made some new, supportive friends and heard from some old friends who decided to stand by her, Parsons wrote on Facebook. Rehtaeh returned to Dartmouth, where she was attending Prince Andrew High School.
However, lately the girl had struggled with mood swings, and after an outburst on Thursday, she locked herself in the bathroom, Parsons said in the interview.
She acted on an impulse, but I truly, in my heart of heart, do not feel she meant to kill herself, her mother wrote on Facebook.
By the time I broke into the bathroom, it was too late.
There are things to be learned from the girl's death, Parsons said in the interview. That is why she is talking about what happened, and why her daughter did the same.
Rehtaeh would want her story out there, she said.
For one thing, social media can be toxic, said the mother. After Rehtaeh left her school, other kids were relentless.
People texted her all the time, saying Will you have sex with me?' she remembered. Girls texting, saying You're such a slut.'
But then there is the question of how the adults handled the alleged sexual assault that Rehtaeh described to her mother.
The RCMP investigation took a year, said Parsons.
RCMP spokesman Cpl. Scott MacRae confirmed the police are now investigating a sudden death involving a young person.
An investigation into an earlier sexual assault was completed, and in consultation with the Crown, there was insufficient evidence to lay charges, MacRae said.
Out of respect for the family, and because of privacy laws, he couldn't discuss details of the investigation Monday, and the force sent its sympathy to Rehtaeh's loved ones, he said.
Parsons said she was unhappy with what she saw of the investigation.
They didn't even interview the boys until much, much later. To me, I'd think you'd get the boys right away, separate them.
When it came to the photo or photos taken that night, nothing was done about that because they couldn't prove who had pressed the photo button on the phone, she said.
She was told that the distribution of the photos is not really a criminal issue, it's more of a community issue, she said.
Even though she was 15 at the time, which is child pornography.
The whole case was full of things like that. We didn't have a rape kit done because we didn't even know (anything had happened) until several days later when she had a breakdown in my kitchen.
She was trying to keep it to herself.
Rehtaeh's former classmates at Prince Andrew High were sent counsellors Monday to provide support, said Doug Hadley, spokesman for the Halifax regional school board.
We've been working very closely with the family for several, several months to provide supports to her, Hadley said.
Right now, we're very saddened by what has taken place.
Rehtaeh always cared for the underdog and was interested in social issues, a girl who read everything she could get her hands on, said her mother.
On March 3, Rehtaeh posted a photo of herself on Facebook next to a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.:
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.