Joint Statement from HRP/ RCMP on Rehtaeh Parsons investigation
April 11, 2013, Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) ....Earlier this afternoon, Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais and Halifax District RCMP Superintendent Roland Wells met with Leah Parsons, the mother of Rehtaeh Parsons. Both officers expressed their sincere condolences at this terrible tragedy and offered their continued support on behalf of both police agencies. The family has asked police to convey their wish for their privacy to be respected by both the media and the public during the days leading up to and including Rehtaeh’s funeral. Out of respect for Ms. Parsons and her family, the remaining details of this meeting will not be shared. This is a devastating tragedy that impacts the community as a whole and we are all saddened by Rehtaeh’s passing.
HRP and RCMP would like to advise the public of the investigative structure involved in sexual assault investigations. The investigation into this sexual assault complaint was led by a Halifax Regional Police officer assigned to the Integrated Sexual Assault Investigation Team, a unit comprised of both HRP and RCMP officers who have a wide range of experience and specialized training. The team is responsible for investigating complaints of sexual assault including those involving children under the authority of the Children and Family Services Act. Sexual assault investigations are complex and require significant time to gather evidence and to interview all parties involved. Because the incident occurred in RCMP jurisdiction an RCMP spokesperson will continue to handle all media inquiries.
We continue to ask people with specific information about this incident to report to police or Crime Stoppers. Though police reports cannot be accepted through social media, tips can be reported anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling toll-free 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), submitting a secure web tip at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca or texting a tip - Tip 202 + your message to 274637.
Police are continuing to face the challenge of the wide circulation of misinformation within the public forum. This has led to some suggestions of vigilante action against individuals alleged to be involved in this case, which we cannot condone. We discourage anyone from taking the law into their own hands, or in any way encouraging vigilante justice. The information being used is unverified or may lead to an assumption of guilt towards people that may not actually be involved. Only a police investigation in which evidence is collected and verified can lead to such conclusions.
We understand there are a number of pages and comments on social networking sites that are targeting Rehtaeh’s memory and people related to this incident. A number of these pages and comments have been shut down or deleted by various Social Media Networking sites. Police want to make clear that making a threat or allegation against someone’s life is a criminal offence. Given the volume of potential sites that may exist, police become involved if there are threats or evidence of a criminal nature.
We also remind citizens that there are resources available. If you or someone you know are having suicidal thoughts, please call the toll-free Kid’s Help Line at 1-800-668-6868 or the toll-free Suicide Prevention Line at 1-888-429-8167. Also please check out http://www.suicideprevention.ca and the list of warning signs at http://www.suicideprevention.ca/about-suicide/warning-signs/.
Halifax Regional Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais
Halifax District RCMP Superintendent Roland Wells