Where Are Rehtaeh Parsons’ Parents Now?

Image Credit: Leah Parsons/People

When teenager Rehtaeh Parson attempted to kill herself in April 2013, the incident sparked outrage because of what had happened before and how the authorities dealt with the case. Rehtaeh died a few days later after being taken off life support, leaving her parents, Leah Parsons and Glen Canning, devastated. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Web of Lies: The Girl in the Photo’ chronicles what happened in this case. In the aftermath of their daughter’s death, Leah and Glen have become activists in their own right and have kept Rehtaeh’s story alive. So, if you’re curious to find out more about them, we’ve got you covered.

Who Are Rehtaeh Parsons’ Parents?

Rehtaeh was born to Leah and Glen in December 1995. At the time of the incident, the parents were with different partners but equally involved with her upbringing. Their lives took a terrible turn in November 2011 when Rahtaeh attended a party with a few friends. Then about 15-years-old, she reportedly drank some vodka. According to Leah, the teenager didn’t remember all of what happened that night but recollected throwing up out of a window. A few days later, the family learned what actually happened.

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Later, Leah alleged that four teenage boys had raped Rehtaeh at the party. “One of those boys took a photo of her being raped and decided it would be fun to distribute the photo to everyone in Rehtaeh’s school and community, where it quickly went viral,” she alleged. Leah added that children in the school started calling her daughter a “sl-t” and bullied her. The authorities investigated the incident and said there wasn’t enough evidence to press charges, adding that it was a “he said she said” case.

As per the family, the police told them that the pictures were not a criminal issue despite Rehtaeh only being 15. In the months after that, Rehtaeh and the family moved from their home in Cole Harbour in Nova Scotia to Halifax, the capital of the province. Leah said, “She was never left alone. Her friends turned against her; people harassed her, [and] boys she didn’t know started texting her and Facebooking asking her to have sex with them since she had had sex with their friends. It just never stopped.”

Rehtaeh struggled with her mental health, and about four months after the alleged incident, Glen took her to a pediatric hospital and trauma center, where she stayed for five weeks. On April 4, 2013, Rehtaeh tried to kill herself by hanging and was rushed to a hospital, where she was placed on life support. The 17-year-old was taken off life support with Leah’s authorization about three days later. The case garnered international headlines over the next few months, with questions about cyberbullying and sexual consent.

Glen and Leah were particularly critical of an article about the alleged incident, wherein the writer, Christie Blatchford, said there was no evidence that Rehtaeh was too drunk to consent. Glen responded, saying, “The two boys involved in taking and posing for the photograph stated Rehtaeh was throwing up when they had sex with her. That is not called consensual sex. That is called rape.” Leah also expressed her disappointment and said, “This article clearly highlights the ‘slut shaming’ going on in our country and the abuse that Rehtaeh felt over and over for the past 18 months.”

The case was reopened after new information came to light, and two of the men allegedly involved were later charged. In November 2014, one of them pled guilty to making child pornography and was sentenced to a conditional discharge. The other man was handed down a probationary sentence in January 2015 after being convicted of distributing child pornography. In the aftermath, the Cybersafety Act took effect in August 2013. However, that was quashed in 2015, and later, the Intimate Images and Cyber-protection Act was enforced in 2018.

Where Are Rehtaeh Parsons’ Parents Now?

Leah talked about the harassment she faced online once Rehtaeh’s story became public. She said, “I was told I was a horrible mother. Then I knew how it felt to be attacked. I realized if I’m feeling this hurt imagine a 15-year-old girl feeling this. I was always reminded of that’s how she felt.” Leah used her experiences to become a public speaker, talking at colleges, and schools and speaking to police officers and lawyers regarding sexual violence, the impact of cyber-bullying, and victim-blaming.

Image Credit: CBC News

Leah also raises awareness regarding these issues through the Rehtaeh Parsons Society. She lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and apart from being a speaker and an activist, she uses her degree to serve as a counselor and is also a yoga teacher. As for Glen Canning, he regretted not calling her daughter on that fateful day but now uses it to help others. He said, “That’s just something I have to live with. That’s why I tell people all the time, ‘if you know somebody who is in a really bad place, don’t think I’ll call them tomorrow.’ Call them right now.”

Apart from maintaining a blog where he posts regularly, Glen works towards raising awareness regarding violence against women and having consent education in high schools. Glen co-authored a book titled ‘My Daughter Rehtaeh Parsons’ released in 2021. He now lives in Toronto, Canada, spending time with his loved ones and a pet dog.

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