Members of the online hacktivist movement Anonymous are backing off from their threats to expose the identities of the alleged rapists of a Nova Scotia teenager who committed suicide earlier this month.
"We feel that honoring the Parsons' wishes while they lay their daughter Rehtaeh to rest is the respectful thing to do," said a posting by the group quoted by the CBC.
Rehtaeh Parsons, 17, was taken off life support by her family Sunday (April 7) after months of what her mother, Leah Parsons, described as months of bullying. The girl, a resident of the Halifax suburb of Cole Harbour, hanged herself last Thursday (April 4).
In November 2011, at age 15, Rehtaeh Parsons went to a house party and was allegedly raped by four boys while drunk and vomiting. A photograph of what appeared to be her sexual assault was circulated among her schoolmates.
The news of Rehtaeh Parsons' death and the events leading up to it have led to an outcry of criticism aimed at the four boys who allegedly raped her, as well as at provincial authorities and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for its failure to charge them with a crime.
On Wednesday morning (April 10), Toronto-based writer and political consultant Warren Kinsella used his blog to ask Anonymous to reveal the identities of the accused boys.
"The names of the little bastards who did this, and who are still alive and walk free in Cole Harbour, are unknown to most of us," Kinsella wrote. "But, as in the Steubenville, Ohio case, I am certain anyone who is sufficiently motivated can find out who the little bastards are, and name and shame them."
(In December, Anonymous members " doxed," or publicized the names of, an alleged participant in the Steubenville gang rape of a drunk teenager last summer. Two other men, both members of the local high school football team, were convicted of rape in March and given light sentences.)
By the end of the day Wednesday, Kinsella had received an answer.
"Anonymous has confirmed the identities of two of the four alleged rapists," read a statement posted on Pastebin.com. "We are currently confirming a third and it is only a matter of time before the fourth is identified as well."
The statement said its authors did "not approve of vigilante justice" and did not advocate violence "at the hands of an unruly mob" and would only release the alleged attackers' names if the RCMP refused to take further action.
"Our demands are simple," the statement said. "We want the N.S. RCMP to take immediate legal action against the individuals in question."
A video posted on YouTube read out the same statement.
But even as voices from all over the world clamored for the alleged rapists' names, Rehtaeh Parsons' own mother asked that the threats against the boys stop.
"I want the justice system to go after those boys for sending those pictures. She was 15 years old," Leah Parsons told the CBC. "I don't want people to go after those boys. People are threatening to do that."
"I don't want more bullying," Leah Parsons added. "Rehtaeh wouldn't want more bullying. I don't think that's justice."
"It's important that Nova Scotians have faith in the justice system," provincial Justice Minister Ross Landry said in a statement issued Tuesday (April 9). "I am committed to exploring the mechanisms that exist to review the actions of all relevant authorities to ensure the system is always working to the best of its ability, in pursuit of justice."
The mother of Amanda Todd, a British Columbia teenager who killed herself in October after alleged bullying, also expressed support for Leah Parsons.
"I wrote to her that in my deepest of hearts that I am so sorry for what her and her family are going through, that I for one truly understand what she is going through and that I give her as much strength as I have," Carol Todd told the CBC.
Anonymous members at different times named two different men who allegedly harassed Todd online. Police ruled out one of them as a case of mistaken identity.
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