Two arrested over photos of alleged sex assault on girl that later committed suicide

The pair were charged with distributing child pornography
  • @James_Legge

Two 18-year-old men have been arrested in Canada in the case of a schoolgirl who killed herself after photos of her allegedly being sexually assaulted were posted and shared online.

The two were charged with distributing child pornography, almost two years after the alleged assault in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the country's eastern coast.

Rehtaeh Parsons was 17 when her life support was turned off, after a suicide attempt in April. The alleged attack happened in November 2011.

Her parents said she had been bullied so severely since the images surfaced that she had to change schools and move house. She was treated for depression in hospital for six weeks.

The case caused outcry across North America, but a year-long police investigation initially found no grounds to charge anyone.

On Thursday Roland Wells, Chief Supt. with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), said one man was charged with two counts of distributing child pornography and the second was charged with making and distributing child pornography.

Because they mere minors at the time of the alleged crime, the suspects will remain anonymous.

Halifax Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais said police didn't have enough evidence for sexual assault charges.

Police in April said a person provided new information in the case and was willing to verify who the suspects were.

Rehtaeh's parents said the arrests brought them some solace, though the girl's father, Glen Canning, expressed disappointment that his daughter never saw justice herself.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said: "I just want to say how pleased we are that progress has been made. I hope this will provide some measure of comfort to family members."

Rehtaeh's death prompted the Nova Scotia government to launch a review of the RCMP's original investigation. That review is ongoing.

A separate independent review released in June concluded the Halifax Regional School Board could have done more, but it was hindered by the fact that Rehtaeh was often absent from class. It also said the Parsons family faced challenges when they turned to Nova Scotia's mental health system for help.

Both accused are due in youth court next Thursday.