Rehtaeh Parsons suicide: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada teen allegedly gang-raped and bullied, dies

OTTAWA, Canada -- A Canadian teenager, who was allegedly gang-raped and bullied, has died, her family said.

Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, was hospitalized after she tried to hang herself Thursday. The high school student from Halifax, Nova Scotia, was taken off life support Sunday.

The teen was bullied for more than a year after the alleged sexual assault in November 2011 when she was 15, her family said.

In addition to the sexual assault, a photo taken during the incident was circulated to friends via text and online, and she developed suicidal thoughts as a result, according to her family.

She struggled emotionally, especially after a police investigation ended without criminal charges, her mother, Leah Parsons, wrote on her Facebook tribute page.

"Rehtaeh is gone today because of the four boys that thought that raping a 15-year-old girl was OK and to distribute a photo to ruin her spirit and reputation would be fun," her mother wrote. "All the bullying and messaging and harassment that never let up are also to blame. Lastly, the justice system failed her. Those are the people that took the life of my beautiful girl."

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said charges will not be filed.

"An investigation was conducted into the alleged sexual assault," said Cpl. Scott MacRae, a spokesman for the police. "In consultation with the crown, the decision was made that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges."

Authorities confirmed that a photograph allegedly showing Parsons having sex with one of the boys was circulated to friends' mobile phones and computers.

Disseminating such a picture even if the sexual encounter was consensual is considered child pornography. However, police said, they did not have enough evidence to bring charges.

"There are factors in determining other than the picture itself; ages, who sent the material, computers, so it's complex," MacRae said. "We do understand people want the answers and the big question here is why was it done or why weren't there charges and we understand that. We're not trying to deflect blame or not be accountable."

The teen's relatives said they hope their story helps families going through the same pain.

Her funeral will be Saturday, her mother said.


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