In another tragic incident of teen suicide prompted by sexual assault and Internet bullying, three 16-year-old boys in California have been arrested in connection with the heartbreaking story of 15-year-old Audrie Taylor Pott.
Pott took her own life September 10, 2012, about a week after she was allegedly victimized while passed out drunk at a party. At least one photo of the incident went viral, and Pott fell into despair. “The whole school knows…My life is ruined,” she wrote on Facebook days before the suicide.
Yesterday, the three boys behind her alleged assault were finally arrested on suspicion of sexual battery.
Here’s what you need to know. Stay tuned for updates.
1. The Boys “Did Unimaginable Things” to Audrie
About 10 teens gathered for a party last September at the Saratoga, California, house of a friend whose parents were out of town. They got drunk on booze mixed with Gatorade. An unconscious Audrey was allegedly assaulted by three boys who “did unimaginable things to her while she was unconscious,” Pott family lawyer Robert Allard told NBC Bay Area. “What these boys did is beyond unconscionable. They should be held to the highest standard of the law to make sure this never ever happens again.”
2. Disgusting Photos Went Viral
Photos of the alleged assault, picturing Audrie naked and unconscious, were rapidly shared via text, email and finally Facebook.
3. Pott Was Bullied — and Devastated
Pott, a popular student, was harassed and cyberbullied by peers who saw and commented on the photos. Humiliated, she fell into despair. “The whole school knows…My life is ruined,” she posted on Facebook days before her death.
4. She Committed Suicide; the Community Was Shocked
About a week after the party, Audrie hanged herself.
In a memorial article on her school’s website, she was described by peers as a “beautiful girl” who made everyone laugh; a creative artist and soccer player since age 2; and dedicated volunteer at a local horse ranch. Friend Amanda Le said:
I’ll always remember how much laughter she brought to everybody. There was never a dull moment with her. She saw the very best in people and genuinely loved people unconditionally.
Spanish teacher Gina Rodriguez said:
She was such a beautiful girl. I think of her every day when I look at her desk. I wish she could have seen so many of us in teal in her honor. She had no idea how loved she was in this community.
On the Friday after her death, September 14, all the students at Saratoga High wore teal, Audrie’s favorite color:
5. The Attackers Were Her Friends
According to the family lawyer, the boys who victimized Audrie were boys with whom she was well acquainted. They are described as her “friends.”
6. The Suspects Were Arrested at School
Yesterday, two boys were arrested at Saratoga High School, where Audrie was a student. The third, a former Saratoga student, attends Christopher High School in the town of Gilroy. The boys, whose names have not been released, will reportedly face charges of sexual battery. The boys are held in a juvenile detention facility awaiting hearings next week. They could also face charges of disseminating child pornography.
Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Kurtis Stenderup told Gilroy Patch:
Our detectives are still actively writing search warrants. I’m told this is far from being over.
7. Audrie’s Parents Think the Boys Destroyed Evidence
Today, on the Facebook page for the Audrie Pott Foundation, Audrie’s parents and the family lawyer made a plea to any students who have information on the case. The message says they fear the three accused boys have destroyed evidence. The parents, who didn’t know about the assault until after their daughter was dead, are demanding that the boys be tried as adults.
7. The Case is Chillingly Similar to a Recent Canada Tragedy
Audrie’s story is reminiscent of the Rehtaeh Parsons Case in Canada. Parsons also hanged herself, after an alleged rape by four boys, the viral spread of nude photos, and Internet bullying.
9. It’s Also Reminiscent of the Steubenville Rape Case
In perhaps the highest-profile case involving the gang rape of an inebriated girl followed by the spread of compromising photos and online bullying, two 16-year-olds were convicted last month in the infamous Steubenville Rape Case.
10. Her Parents Are Championing a Cyberbullying Law
According to the family lawyer, Audrie’s parents are pushing for a law to be named in Audrie’s honor. They don’t want her death to be in vain, and they have encouraged news outlets to use her name to raise awareness. Meanwhile, the parents are looking to sue about 10 people in connection with Audrie’s death.
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