Ban on Rehtaeh Parsons won’t be prosecuted unless she is named in derogatory way

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s attorney general says no one will be prosecuted for identifying Rehtaeh Parsons as the victim in a recent high-profile child pornography case unless her name is used in a derogatory manner.

A judge placed the mandatory ban on Parsons’ identity in May in the case of two young men who were charged with child pornography offences.

Last month, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald identified Parsons as the victim in the case when one of the young men pleaded guilty in youth court.

He will be sentenced in January for distributing a sexually graphic image of the 15-year-old girl, who died last year following a suicide attempt.

The other young man was given a conditional discharge for making child pornography.

Attorney General Lena Metlege Diab says the directive to Nova Scotia’s Public Prosecution Service says no breach of the ban identifying Parsons as the victim in the case by the media or in any forum will be prosecuted, unless her name is used in a derogatory way.

The judge in the case had noted in May after he brought in the ban that the Criminal Code required him to implement it but he also said the Crown prosecution service could decide not to prosecute if it was broken. That route wasn’t taken until Diab’s directive was issued Wednesday.

Diab said a number of factors were weighed in making her decision.

“This decision wasn’t made lightly,” she said in a statement. “I carefully considered the original intent of the law to protect victims, and I listened to the views of Rehtaeh’s parents, supporters, legal experts and Nova Scotians. This directive strikes the right balance.”

Both of Parsons’ parents opposed the ban. Her father often wore T-shirts bearing her name in court.

Police have investigated a number of complaints since the ban was imposed and have not laid any charges.

The director of public prosecutions said the directive clarifies the approach his office should take.

“Consultations with the attorney general have resulted in a directive which provides the public with a better understanding of those situations where prosecutorial discretion will be exercised to deal with publication ban breaches,” said Martin Herschorn. “Clarity was needed, and that’s what this directive does.”

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