Parents of missing Truro toddler settle part of cyberbullying case

·2 min read
Tom Hurley was the administrator of a Facebook group where people shared information and theories about the case of Dylan Ehler, a three-year-old boy who went missing in Truro, N.S., last year. (Preston Mulligan/CBC - image credit)
Tom Hurley was the administrator of a Facebook group where people shared information and theories about the case of Dylan Ehler, a three-year-old boy who went missing in Truro, N.S., last year. (Preston Mulligan/CBC - image credit)

The parents of a Nova Scotia toddler who disappeared a year ago have reached a settlement with a woman who ran a Facebook page that questioned what happened to their son.

Three-year-old Dylan Ehler was playing in his grandmother's yard in Truro, N.S. when he disappeared on May 6, 2020. An active search lasted almost two weeks but the boy was never found.

In the weeks and months that followed, some people accused the boy's parents, Jason Ehler and Ashley Brown, of negligence leading to his disappearance. Others have without evidence accused them of orchestrating his disappearance, or even killing their own son.

Many of these discussions happened over Facebook, where one group dedicated to the case had more than 17,000 members.

The group, "Dylan Ehler Open for Discussions" or "Dylan Ehler Open for Suggestions" was administered by April Diane Moulton and Tom Hurley, also known as Tom Hubley.

A lawyer representing the parents launched a court action against Moulton and Hurley under Nova Scotia's intimate images and cyber-protection act.

Moulton barred from posting about family

In an order signed late last month in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Moulton was prohibited from re-opening that discussion group or starting another one like it.

Moulton is also prohibited from making any further public posts about Dylan Ehler or his parents.

As part of the order, the couple's request for damages from Moulton was dismissed. That ended the court action against her.

The action against Hurley got more complicated. The couple's lawyer, Allison Harris, exchanged a series of emails with him, offering the same agreement that had ended the legal action against Moulton.

But Hurley balked, complaining that he couldn't agree not to see Ehler and Brown because Truro is a small town and they're bound to run into one another. He and Harris went back and forth in their email exchanges as she tried to refine the agreement to get him to sign on.

The case landed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Truro Tuesday morning. "Frankly, it's fairly hard to follow what's occurred," Justice Jeffrey Hunt said.

'Not willing to bend'

Hurley, Harris and Moulton appeared by telephone. Hurley offered a lengthy explanation of the difficulties he had communicating with Harris, including his printer running out of ink when he tried to print out a copy of the agreement.

"I've been trying to settle this before it comes to court, but they're not willing to bend," Hurley told the judge.

Hunt decided the only way to resolve the matter was to bring the parties into court to discuss it face to face, assuming such a hearing will be possible under pandemic restrictions. They've set Aug. 3 for a hearing.

"Decide whether you want to spend your life chasing this," Hunt told Hurley as he ended the phone conference.

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