(CNN) — [Breaking news update, 9:26 p.m.]
Two 18-year-old men face child pornography distribution charges in connection with the case of a 17-year-old girl who hanged herself after she was allegedly gang-raped and bullied online, Canadian authorities said Thursday.
[Original report, 6:25 p.m.]
Two arrests have been made in connection with the case of a 17-year-old girl who hanged herself after she was allegedly gang-raped and bullied online, Canadian authorities said Thursday.
Two unidentified males were arrested Thursday morning at their homes in Halifax, Nova Scotia, according to a brief statement from Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Halifax Regional Police.
They were being questioned, said authorities, without releasing further details. Officials have 24 hours to decide whether to release the pair or pursue charges.
Rehtaeh Parsons was taken off life support in April, three days after she hanged herself.
Her family said she developed suicidal thoughts after she was sexually assaulted two years before and after a picture of the incident was shared by phone and online.
The alleged sexual assault by four boys happened in November 2011 when Rehtaeh was 15, her family said.
Authorities confirmed that a photograph was circulated to friends’ mobile phones and computers. As a result, her family said, she developed suicidal thoughts.
Police investigated, but no criminal charges were filed at that time.
In April, police in eastern Canada announced they would reopen the case “in light of new and credible information that has recently been brought forward to police.”
Parsons’ mother told CNN affiliate CBC on Thursday that she felt “better” now that arrests have been made.
Leah Parsons said she learned of the arrests when police came to her house to tell her.
“I felt a little bit of relief, just to say, finally — like I hope — they keep saying they want to tell their side of the story, but they have never given a statement. The police have never spoken to them in all this time. So at least, here is your chance. Tell your side of the story,” she said.
News of the arrests came one day after cybersafety legislation inspired by Parsons was implemented in Nova Scotia.
The law allows victims, among other things, to sue their alleged cyberbullies. If a bully is a minor, the bully’s parents can be held liable.
Officials said the timing of the arrests and the implementation of the legislation was merely a coincidence.
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