Immediately above is CBC's headline for this article. It's unfortunate in that the case was far more than just bullying.
The independent review into how Nova Scotia police and prosecutors handled the Rehtaeh Parsons case has found that both the investigator and the Crown made errors.
Murray Segal, Ontario's former deputy attorney general, was tasked with examining how Halifax Regional Police and the province's Public Prosecution Service handled the case.
The report, which makes 17 recommendations, says the investigation into allegations of sexual assault and an inappropriate photo took too long and it highlights a series of missteps, starting with Parsons' first unrecorded interview with police.
Read Murray Segal's full report and recommendations here
Parsons' family said she was sexually assaulted by four boys at a November 2011 party.
She died after attempting suicide in 2013.
"What took place on November 12, 2011, in the Eastern Passage bedroom was wrong on many levels," Segal said in his report.
However, when examining the case, Segal said "the decision not to lay any sexual assault charges was within the realm of reasonable decisions given all the circumstances."
Excuse me, Mr Segal, but we don't have and have never had all the circumstances. The boys involved were never questioned by the police with regard to the rape of Rehtaeh. The questioning of Rehtaeh was so badly bungled that who knows what was missed or lost?
Police said they looked into the allegations of sexual assault, but initially concluded there weren't enough grounds to lay charges after consulting with the prosecution service.
What does that mean, 'looked into'? Without questioning the boys they couldn't have looked very deeply.
Segal's reports says the first interview didn't follow proper protocol and the special investigator from the sexual assault unit "unnecessarily interviewed her at length."
The report says because Parsons was a young person, there should have been a social worker present, and not Parsons's mother. She should have been interviewed separately.
Because of this, the report says Parsons had to be re-interviewed.
It said this error caused "an avoidable negative impact" on Parsons and the second statement wasn't taken under "conditions conductive to optimal reliability."
The report found the sexual assault investigation unit's investigation should have wrapped up sooner, and while it included errors, was "proper and thorough."
Did I mention, the boys were not questioned? How can the investigation be considered 'proper and thorough'?
"It took too long for a kid and a family in crisis," Segal said while presenting his report in Halifax Thursday afternoon.
A digital photo of the alleged assault began to circulate. Her family said Parsons was mocked by classmates and endured relentless harassment and humiliation.
Segal found an investigator tried to interview as many students as possible and was "apparently thwarted by school authorities."
How can school officials thwart a police investigation? Are you serious?
The report says the investigator intended to arrest two of the boys, interview them and charge them with child pornography related offences, but went to the Crown for advice first.
The report says after reviewing the file extensively, the Crown determined "there was no realistic prospect that sexual assault charges would result in convictions."
"While I find that more attention could have been given to the allegations surrounding the events that occurred at the window, the Crown's position, in view of the many evidentiary challenges in this case, was not unreasonable," Segal wrote.
Wouldn't it have been 'reasonable' to interview the boys before making the decision not to prosecute? And how can rape not have occurred when the girl was so drunk she was leaning out the window throwing up while the boys were helping themselves to her body, and taking photos to prove it? Did Rehtaeh give assent to have sex between vomits? It is simply astonishing that the Crown didn't think they had a winable case. It's very disappointing that Segal arrived at the conclusion that the prosecutors decision was not unreasonable; it was cowardly, at best, and suspicious, at worst.
He said another Crown may have chosen to prosecute, but "it no doubt presented a unique challenge for the prosecution."
He also said that because of this, the police investigators decision not to lay sexual assault charges "was understandable."
Understandable, but not very admirable.
A second Crown, a junior counsel in consultation with someone more senior, also weighed in, Segal said.
That person determined it wasn't possible to tell if the people pictured in the photo were underage, and as a result child pornography offences couldn't be prosecuted, he found.
But Segal said this advice was incorrect.
"It reflected a misunderstanding of the law as it relates to child pornography," he said.
Not only was it misunderstanding the law, but it was spectacularly stupid! The two people in the photo were easily identified, how was it possible the Crown couldn't figure out their age? It makes absolutely no sense?
Failure to curb cyberbullying
The report also found the investigation failed to address the cyberbullying Parsons experienced.
"Throughout the initial investigation, the police were not successful in promptly intervening to stop the significant harm to Rehtaeh caused by the circulation of the photograph," Segal said.
'Not successful' would imply some effort was involved - was there, in fact, some effort by the police to stop the cyberbullying? If there was, what was it?
"The rapid, ongoing damage caused by the distribution of the photo was not alleviated in any way by the authorities' intervention."
Segal said police could have obtained a search warrant to seize the boys' phones who they believed had the photograph.
He said that would have sent a message to students that police were taking the matter seriously. He also found the police could have put more pressure on the school to co-operate.
Segal concludes by saying the investigation should have wrapped up sooner and that the investigator's workload played a factor.
"A year-long investigation was simply unacceptable," he said.
The provincial government ordered the review in August 2013, but it was delayed until legal proceedings involving two men charged in the Parsons case concluded.
The child pornography charges were laid only after Parsons died. And only after a huge outcry that involved Anonymous and even the Prime Minister.
None of this would have happened if Anonymous hadn't stepped in, said Canning. "I believe that absolutely. I have no question about that at all."
Police charged two men just four days before Segal was appointed to lead the review:
- A 20-year-old man pleaded guilty last November to distributing a sexually graphic image of Parsons, who was 15 years old at the time of the offence. He was sentenced to probation.
- Another 20-year-old man pleaded guilty to making child pornography by taking a photo of the accused having sex with Parsons.
Both men were youths at the time of the offence and were charged under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
One of two people who were convicted of child pornography charges over a photo of Rehtaeh was charged with uttering death threats and criminal harassment in April 2014.
The charges were laid after Glen Canning, Rehtaeh's father, said someone posted a malicious message on his YouTube channel in 2013, the year his daughter killed herself. Police said other threats were made on WordPress, an online publishing platform.
Eric Taylor, the Crown attorney in the case, said the forensic results from man's computer don't support the threat charges. "There was some suspicion but obviously not enough for a conviction," he said outside the courtroom. As a result, the charges have been stayed and the man entered a peace bond for one year to stay away from Canning and his family.
Taylor says while investigators can track down an IP address associated with an online comment, it's hard to determine who was at the keyboard.
OMG, nothing has changed at the NS Crown prosecutors office!
The fact that one of the boys and/or his father made threats against Rehtaeh and her parents failed to result in any charges. So, we have a gang-rape, the making of child pornography, the distribution of child pornography, relentless bullying, and death threats, and no-one spent a minute in jail! Nova Scotia justice needs a serious overhaul because it looks like a big joke!