TORONTO (AP) — Authorities are reopening the case of a teen who hanged herself after she was allegedly raped and bullied for months, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Friday.
The police force's Nova Scotia office said it had received new and credible information in the case of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, whose family said she was photographed while being sexually assaulted in 2011 and bullied after the photo went viral online.
Her death on Sunday has been compared to similar cases in the United States, including a 15-year-old California girl who killed herself after her family says she was sexually assaulted by friends and a photo surfaced online.
Police had concluded there were no grounds to charge anyone in the Canadian case after an initial yearlong investigation. But the RCMP in Halifax now says a person who provided new information is willing to verify who the suspects are and cooperate with investigators, who have come under public criticism for their handling of the case.
RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae said he could not provide any details about who the source is or what the new information is. He would not say whether they were a witness. He said it's too early to speculate if there will be charges.
"We're certainly encouraged by this," he said.
MacRae said Parson's family had been informed, and they "welcome the re-opening of the file."
The Nova Scotia government came under criticism after Justice Minister Ross Landry initially ruled out the possibility of reviewing how the RCMP handled allegations that Parsons was sexually assaulted.
Landry changed course this week, saying he had asked senior officials for options to review how the Mounties and the Public Prosecution Service concluded they could not file charges.
A group reported to be the cyber-activist hackers Anonymous released a statement Friday saying it has seen "several public statements" from one of the alleged rapists acknowledging that he had sex with Parsons while she was intoxicated and that she threw up during the assault. The group had earlier vowed to release the names of four males investigated in the alleged sexual assault if police did not reopen its investigation.
A funeral service for Parsons is scheduled for Saturday.