Allard represents the family of Audrie Pott. A week after the California teen was allegedly sexually assaulted while passed out at a party seven months ago, and after humiliating pictures were posted online, Pott hanged herself.
|Rehtaeh Parsons and Audrie Pott|
the similarities between Audrie and Rehtaeh are undeniable
"The boys savagely took advantage of her while she had no ability to defend herself and then what happened afterwards may have been worse. They rubbed her nose in it effectively by spreading around at least one photograph of the assault taking place and various taunting messages about what happened."
Rehtaeh,17, was taken off life support following a suicide attempt. Her mother, Leah Parsons, alleges Rehtaeh was raped by four boys who took photos of the incident, which were circulated online, sparking bullying and harassment.
Where to call for help:
Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
N.S. Mental Heath Mobile Crisis Team: 1-888-429-8167
No charges were laid in Rehtaeh’s case until there was a national outcry. Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter has ordered four government departments to look into her death.
Initially, provincial Justice Minister Ross Landry said (incredibly) his department couldn't second-guess every police investigation, but later said he was giving officials in his department approval to review the case, and present him with options by the end of the week.
Here's an option, Minister Landry, resign. No-one is asking you to review every police investigation, just the ones that jump out at you as being extremely inadequate as the investigation into Rehtaeh's claims of gang-rape, and their subsequent investigation into the photo and its distribution and then the bullying.
You would not have charged anyone with anything had not the people and the Prime Minister of Canada not been outraged. That is an extraordinary lack of justice for which you should resign.
Landry also said he's considering new laws when it comes to allegations of sexual assault and distribution of child pornography.
Allard said Audrie’s parents want to ensure that nothing like this happens to anyone else’s child by changing the law.
"The parents are committed to establishing Audrie’s law and what we intend to do, it’s early, but we will seek to strengthen the sexual assault laws so that when juveniles like this commit a crime this atrocious, they are held to the standard of an adult," said Allard.
"And number two, to strengthen penalties for cyberbullying that when people invade someone’s privacy in such a manner as here, that there are penalties for that, perhaps even imprisonment. Maybe with those measures in place it will make it safer for kids to do what they need to do which is to develop without this sort of thing."
After the above report was written, the three 16 year-old boys involved were arrested in northern California.
The three admitted in juvenile court to sexually assaulting and possessing photos of Audrie Pott, both felonies. Two of the three received 30-day sentences to be served on weekends. The other was sentenced to 45 consecutive days. Because of their ages, the three teenagers have not been publicly identified.
There is yet another similarity with Rehtaeh Parsons; the boys got a slap on the wrist for rape, making and distributing child pornography. But, at least, they got introduced to jail cells, which is more than what two of the boys who allegedly raped Rehtaeh got. The two other boys involved were never prosecuted for anything. Neither were any of the girls who texted the photo or who bullied Rehtaeh to death.
We need some creative laws written to deal with the ever advancing technology available to children.
< Photographing someone in very embarrassing circumstances that are liable to lead to bullying needs to be a crime.
< If that involves an underage girl having sex, the penalty should be increased.
< If the picture is taken against the girl's will, i.e. passed out, throwing up or objecting, there should be another escalation in penalty.
< If the picture is sent by text or other media to any other person, it shall be deemed 'distribution of child porn' and result in another escalation of penalty.
< If that distributed image leads to bullying - another escalation.
< If the bullying leads the victim to attempt suicide - another escalation.
< If the victim is successful in the suicide attempt then the perp should get a significant increase in penalty.
< Everyone who re-texts such photos should be punished and the threads should be followed to the end.
< Everyone who bullied the victim either by text or in person or any other means should be charged with a crime and punished.
< Finally, anyone photographed having sex while they are unconscious or vomiting or otherwise obviously not participating willfully, shall be deemed to have been raped and appropriate charges laid, with appropriate penalties, not a slap on the wrist or a couple weekends in jail.
We need to protect teenage girls who are often very emotional and vulnerable. We've done a lousy job of it so far.