Canada
Hundreds mourn Rehtaeh Parsons at vigil

Rehtaeh Parson

Credits: FACEBOOK PHOTO

QMI AGENCY

A vigil for a Nova Scotia teen who killed herself after she was allegedly raped and bullied drew hundreds in Halifax Thursday night, hours after Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was "sickened" by the tragedy.

"As a parent of a teenaged daughter, you're just sickened seeing a story like this," Harper said in Calgary Thursday evening.

Rehtaeh, 17, was taken off life-support Sunday after trying to hang herself in the bathroom of her home on April 4. Her parents said she was raped by four boys when she was 15, then mercilessly bullied after photos of the attack circulated online.

But Harper said bullying isn't a strong enough word.

"Bullying to me has a kind of connotation ... of kids misbehaving. What we are dealing with in some of these circumstances is simply criminal activity. It is youth criminal activity, it is violent criminal activity, it is sexual criminal activity and it is often Internet criminal activity."

While police said they lacked evidence to press charges, hacker collective Anonymous announced it has identified all four boys.

The group said in a statement Thursday it received "dozens" of e-mails from people alleging the boys boasted about the rape "of an inebriated 15-year-old girl."

"These sad little boys had no fear whatsoever about admitting publicly their crimes and even spreading photographic evidence of it. They believed no one was ever going to do anything to stop them and they were right," the group said, calling for demonstrations outside police headquarters over the weekend.

Soon after, police issued a warning against "misinformation" and vigilantism.

"Given the volume of potential sites that may exist, police become involved if there are threats or evidence of a criminal nature," reads a joint statement by Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais and RCMP Supt. Roland Wells, who met with Rehtaeh's mother that afternoon.

Leah Parsons has publicly criticized how police handled her daughter's case, but asked the public to leave the boys alone.

A nationwide outcry, including an online petition that had more than 102,000 signatures by Thursday night, prompted Justice Minister Ross Landry to call for a review of how police and prosecutors handled the case.

"Government is prepared to look at everything to ensure that no family has to go through this same tragedy," Premier Darrell Dexter said.

A second vigil is planned in Rehtaeh's hometown of Cole Harbour Friday night.


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