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Child porn arrests made in Rehtaeh Parsons cyberbullying case

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Rehtaeh’s parents say the assault took place in November 2011, and police originally brought no charges. Now police say that new evidence prompted more investigation in April and led to two men, now 18, being charged: one with making and distributing child pornography, the other with two counts of distributing. Because the men were minors at the time, they will appear in youth court, on Aug. 15.

Police say there was not enough evidence to bring sexual assault charges. The original police investigation is under review by the Nova Scotia government.

“We hope that today’s arrests help the community to heal,” said Chief Superintendent Roland Wells of the Halifax District Royal Canadian Mounted Police. “A young girl has died in what was a tragic set of circumstances. We all need to reflect on how we as a community can come together in Rehtaeh's memory and see what we can do to work together to support our youth.”

Typically, first-time youthful offenders charged with child pornography don’t end up going to jail, but prosecutors can seek to try them as adults, and penalties for adults have been strengthened in Canada in recent years, says Wayne MacKay, a law professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia.

In Canada, a government committee has recommended strengthening the criminal code to make it illegal to distribute intimate images without consent, whether they are of minors or adults.

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