Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada – A 16-year-old Winnipeg high school student was attacked and beaten so badly last Friday night that her mother couldn’t believe it was her daughter when she first saw her in a hospital intensive care unit.
“I didn’t recognize her,” Julie Harper admitted. “I didn’t think it was Rinelle. But every day, she’s getting a lot better. I believe it is the prayers (from people touched by Rinelle’s attack) which pulled her through.”
Police said Rinelle was out with friends that night but became separated from them. She met two men in the south Broadway area who started talking with her and she walked with them to the riverwalk. That’s where the pair attacked her and tossed her into the river near the Midtown Bridge.
The girl was swept downstream, but when she managed to get out of the frigid water, she was attacked again and left for dead. A passerby discovered the unconscious teenager the next morning and called for help.
On Tuesday, thanks to tips from Winnipeg citizens, a 20-year-old man and a 17-year-old boy were arrested and charged with the teen’s attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault.
“When I first heard there was two arrests, the first thing that came to me was to forgive right away,” Julie Harper said after a news conference Thursday. “If any family members (of the accused) are listening, I forgive them. That’s what I was taught to do by my late grandparents. It’s hard, but I truly forgive them.”
Rinelle was moved from intensive care into a regular hospital ward on Wednesday and her mother said the girl is making steady progress.
Read the full story: “Forgiveness for Rinelle’s attackers: Teen’s mom says it’s what she was raised to do.”
Watch a video of Julie Harper forgiving the two attackers.