Bullied, raped student ends her life...

I’m angry…

By now, you’ve heard about the tragic death of Rehtaeh Parsons. But, in case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the tragedy…

Rehtaeh, 17 and from Nova Scotia, was taken off of life support and died on April 7, 2013 following a suicide attempt. Rehtaeh had been allegedly raped by four boys. Apparently, there was even a photograph of the rape. She was also bullied relentlessly.

The rape was reported to police, but APPARENTLY there wasn’t enough evidence to lay charges. So, the bullying continued… until Rehtaeh eventually took steps to end her own life.

I am furious!

Obviously, I am furious at the “boys” who committed the rape.

And, after reading about the tragedy, I am also furious at the police.

Granted, I don’t have the full story; but, I have a REALLY hard time believing that they couldn’t get enough evidence together. I also have a hard time imagining that four boys could commit such a serious crime and completely cover it up, totally escaping criminal liability…

The Nova Scotia government is apparently devoting substantial resources to find out what happened. I hope that they find the individuals who are responsible...

And, I applaud Nova Scotia Justice Minister Ross Landry for taking these steps. But, there is something that he said that just doesn’t make sense….

He said that, in the wake of Rehtaeh’s death, he’s considering NEW LAWS when it comes to sexual assault and distribution of child pornography.

Maybe I am missing something here…

The laws surrounding sexual assault and child pornography aren’t gray or vague. I think we all know that rape and child pornography are illegal. And, there aren’t truck-wide holes in those laws.

So, I fail to see how different laws would have prevented this tragedy.

It seems pretty clear to me: the police couldn’t get enough evidence to lay criminal charges. That’s what they said, right?

Okay, so let’s assume that the police weren’t incompetent in investigating the crime. If they weren’t (and we’ll find this out soon), then obviously they needed further resources.

It makes me angry when politicians say that they are going to create new laws when the existing laws are just fine. The problem isn’t the laws – it’s the ENFORCEMENT of those laws.

So, here’s a better idea: how about devoting more resources to ensure that police are able to effectively investigate crime? Better training, more police, more resources, you name it…

Enough is enough.

**The information contained in this column should not be treated by readers as legal advice and should not be relied on without detailed legal counsel being sought.

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About the Author

Jeff Zilkowsky is a lawyer practicing at MacLean Law in the Lower Mainland and in Kelowna, and focuses his practice on family law and litigation.  

In his column, Jeff provides information about current legal events or points of interest or concern relating to the law. 

The information contained in Jeff’s column should not be used or relied upon as legal advice.

Comments are always appreciated and encouraged, so don’t hesitate to email Jeff at [email protected]

Visit Jeff’s website at www.jeffzilkowsky.com or visit the website of MacLean Law.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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