UPDATE: This story is about Rehtaeh Parsons.

Yesterday a story we all know reached a sort of ending. An ending which no one wanted, but given how sexual assault is prosecuted in Canada, almost seems destined.

A 20-year-old man with no prior record received a one-year conditional discharge for making child pornography. When 17, he photographed a 15-year-old girl being raped while she vomited out of a window. The image was passed around on social media. The girl attempted suicide two years later, prompted by months of bullying, eventually passing away after being taken off life support.

Because of the publication ban, I can't tell you the girl's name. But, as pointed out yesterday, you already know it.

The young man will also have to provide his DNA for a national database, and write an apology letter to the girl's parents. Impartially, the judge decided that punishment was fair. Maybe it is. There was so much anger about this story. People wanted the accused punished for the events that extinguished a bright young life.

"...being the kind of person she was, [she] would have forgiven you if you had only said you were sorry. When she was alive to hear it—you could have made a difference, yet you remained silent even when you knew her life had turned into a nightmare by your actions. You did nothing when it would have mattered." —Victim impact statement from her father

There was this hoping against hope that the systems we've designed to try and right wrongs would somehow make sense of this all. Like that would absolve any of the institutional failures that lead to where we are now.

No one has been charged with sexual assault. No one, in fact, was being charged with anything until news articles, political pressure, international outrage and a dead teenager made RCMP rethink their initial investigation.

Lenehan, in his decision, said the young man “should never forget the promising, vibrant young life that was eventually destroyed by his choice to record an act of sexual degradation.”
“In a few seconds, (you) set in motion a series of events that led to a great deal of shame, humiliation, anger, despair, anguish, loss, hurt and destruction for (the girl), for her family, for you, for your family, for the entire community.” —The Chronicle Herald

The publication ban is designed to protect the identity of a victim from any more suffering. It can't seem more laughable in this instance. Those outraged about why she died are silenced, while others get to twist her name to their own petty, political whims.

"I wish that he make a life for himself where other females he encountered are treated with respect and dignity. That he somehow learns to value females and that he does so in memory of my daughter. To me, that is the only way to move forward in a healing manner. What I do know is that I have to forgive him. I know this to be true." —Victim impact statement from her mother

There was never going to be a happy ending, but that doesn't make this ending any less shameful.

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