The family of Rehtaeh Parsons, the Canadian teen whose death sparked an international outcry last week, now claim they are being harassed by supporters of the four boys accused of raping their daughter.
According to Canadian news outlet CBC, posters in support of the boys have gone up in several neighborhoods around Halifax, Nova Scotia, including on the street where Parsons' family lives. The brightly colored flyers read, "Speak the truth. There’s two sides to every story. Listen before you judge. The truth will come out. Stay strong and support the boys."
In an interview with Global News on Wednesday, Rehtaeh's mother, Leah Parsons, called the signs harassment.
"It just felt like someone kicked me in the stomach. How dare they do that?" Parsons told Global News. "My daughter is gone because of them, and they have the nerve to show up on my street and my community where my children live and keep harassing us."
Halifax Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) spokesman Scott MacRae told the CBC that, although putting up posters may be disrespectful, it is not a criminal offense.
Peaceful demonstrations demanding justice for Parsons were held in Halifax in the wake of the teen's death, but they were reportedly countered by a demonstation in support of the accused boys. According to Raw Story, a Facebook page supporting the boys was ordered by police to be taken down after the names of the accused leaked.
Rehtaeh Parsons was taken off life support last week after attempting suicide earlier this month. Her family blamed their daughters' death partly on the failure of the justice system to bring charges against four boys accused of raping Parsons in November 2011.
One accused boy allegedly took a photo of another having sex with Parsons and circulated the picture at school. In an interview last week with CBC Radio program "Maritime Noon," Leah Parsons said the photo ruined her daughter's reputation and led to intense bullying online and in her community.
The RCMP conducted a yearlong criminal investigation of the alleged sexual assault, but prosecutors did not bring charges against the accused. Lack of charges helped spark public outcry over Parsons' death.
As news of Rehtaeh's death spread, Internet activist group Anonymous vowed to expose the girl's rapists and reportedly contacted them. In an email to CBS News, Anonymous claimed that the accused were "still not denying anything" about the alleged sexual assault.
According to the Associated Press, the investigation was reopened April 12 after police received "new and credible information" about the case.