SARATOGA, Calif. (AP) — A 15-year-old California girl committed suicide after she was sexually assaulted by three of her friends and a photo of the attack surfaced online, an attorney said Friday.
Robert Allard, a lawyer for the family of Audrie Pott, said she saw an intimate photo being passed around online and pieced together from emails and text messages that her friends had victimized her while she slept.
She hanged herself eight days after the September 2012 assault in the upscale bedroom community of Saratoga on the fringe of Silicon Valley.
Allard did not provide additional details about how Audrie was assaulted, but he said she had fallen asleep after drinking at a sleepover.
The Santa Clara County sheriff’s office arrested three 16-year-old boys on Thursday on suspicion of sexual battery in the case.
Sheriff’s officials have not released the names of the suspects because of their ages, or details of the case.
Family members of Pott also believe the attackers tried to destroy evidence.
That claim was posted on a Facebook page for a foundation set up in the girl’s name.
It did not provide further details on what type of evidence might have been targeted by the suspects. However, it asked any students with information to come forward,
The family went into seclusion after releasing the statement. Allard said the Thursday arrests “reopened a wound.”
The Pott family was not alone in wrestling with such circumstances.
In Canada, the cousin of a young woman who committed suicide after an alleged assault and months of bullying issued an emotional appeal to people on Thursday not to use violence to avenge her death.
Angella Parsons stood before a somber crowd of about 300 people in a Halifax park to reflect on the short life of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons.
The gathering came after Rehtaeh’s family said she hanged herself last week and was taken off life-support on Sunday.
In Steubenville, Ohio, two high school football players were recently convicted in the rape of a drunken 16-year-old girl, an incident recorded on cellphones by students and gossiped about online.
In California, Pott posted on Facebook that her life was ruined, “worst day ever,” then hanged herself, Allard said.
For the next eight months, until Thursday’s arrests, her family struggled to figure out what happened to their soccer loving, artistic, horse crazy daughter, whose gentle smile, long dark hair and shining eyes belied a struggling soul.