SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The family of a girl who committed suicide after she was sexually battered and then cyberbullied with a humiliating photo planned to file a civil action against the suspects on Monday and also speak publicly about the case, their representatives said.
Family spokesman Ed Vasquez said Monday the girl’s parents want to speak out about how they learned of the sexual assault and share what they know about the three teenage suspects who were arrested last Thursday. Their arrest came eight months after their daughter, Audrie Pott, 15, posted online that her life was ruined and then hanged herself.
Eric Geffon, who represents one of the suspected teens, said the boys were cited last fall but no formal charges were filed against them until Thursday, when Santa Clara County Sheriff’s deputies arrested two boys at Saratoga High School and a third, a former Saratoga High student, at Christopher High in Gilroy where he currently was a student. As of Sunday night, all three 16-year-old boys were still being held in the Santa Clara County detention center.
Pott also had been a student at Saratoga High, and the suspects were her friends, said family attorney Robert Allard.
On the night she was assaulted, Pott drank alcohol mixed with Gatorade at a Labor Day sleepover party, then went upstairs and fell asleep “and woke up to the worst nightmare imaginable,” Allard said. Over the next week, she pieced together who had sexually battered her and realized at least one humiliating photo was electronically being passed around the school.
“She was being consoled by other friends and they were concerned about her. One day she apparently felt that she couldn’t cope with it anymore and poor Audrie was traumatized to the point where she ended her life,” Allard said.
Geffon said much of what has been reported is incorrect, including the family’s assertion that the boys were not cooperating with investigators. He added that the Santa Clara County sheriff’s decision to arrest the boys just days prior to a civil lawsuit being filed seems “awfully coincidental.”
Vasquez said Audrie’s family planned to hold a press conference Monday morning to “raise awareness about teenage bullying, harassment, sexual assault, and the use of electronic media to disseminate images that humiliate and in this case drove their daughter to take her life.”
They are adamant that the suspects be tried as adults, he said.
Two former San Jose police officers, privately hired by the family’s attorney to help investigate the case, are also slated to speak about the need for students to break the culture of silence and come forward with additional information about the assault.