Canada arrests two in well-publicized teen cyber-bullying case

Thu Aug 8, 2013 12:39pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Canadian police arrested two men on Thursday in the case of a teenage girl who died after a suicide attempt that followed months of cyber bullying, including lewd photos of an alleged sexual assault that were posted online.

The April, 2013, death of Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old from Halifax, Nova Scotia, focused international attention on the issue of bullying in the Internet era, where cellphone pictures can easily circulate on Facebook and other social media sites.

People magazine put her photo on its cover to illustrate a story on the consequences of online harassment among teenagers.

A police statement did not say what the two men were arrested for, only that they were taken into custody from their homes this morning. No charges have been filed.

Parsons was taken off life support following a suicide attempt that her parents said came after months of sustained harassment following an alleged November 2011 sexual assault, when she was 15. Cellphone pictures of the alleged assault circulated among her classmates and on social media sites.

Police closed an initial investigation without filing charges, citing insufficient evidence, only to reopen it following a national outcry and an Internet campaign that claimed to have uncovered new evidence of the assault and the bullying that followed.

The arrests come the day after a new cyber-bullying law came into effect in Nova Scotia, the first of its kind in Canada.

Under the new law, anyone who feels they are being harassed online can seek a restraining order or sue on behalf of themselves or their children. Cyber bullies can face up to 6 months in jail or a fine of up to C$5,000 ($4,800).

(Reporting by Peter N.Henderson; Editing by Janet Guttsman and Philip Barbara)

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