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Boys reportedly cited soon after alleged attack on Audrie Pott

April 14, 2013|By Los Angeles Times Staff
  • Audrie Pott, 15, committed suicide in September after an alleged sexual assault and cyberbullying.
Audrie Pott, 15, committed suicide in September after an alleged sexual… (Associated Press )

Three boys arrested this week on felony charges for allegedly sexually assaulting Audrie Pott, the Saratoga High School sophomore who committed suicide after the incident, had been cited by authorities last fall.

Authorities this week alleged that Pott, 15, was assaulted last fall by the three boys, one of whom snapped a picture of the alleged attack.

The photo quickly circulated among Pott’s classmates. She wrote on her Facebook page that it was the “worst day ever,” according to her family’s attorney, Robert Allard. “The whole school knows,” she wrote. “My life is like ruined now.”

A week after the alleged attack Pott hanged herself.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Sunday that the boys were cited by authorities soon after the alleged attack. Officials said a preliminary investigation found evidence to support only misdemeanor sexual battery charges. 

"This was early on in the investigation, before more evidence and information was developed," Lt. Jose Cardoza of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department told the paper. He said a further investigation led to the more serious felony charges.

The suspects' three attorneys -- Eric S. Geffon, Alan M. Lagod and Benjamin W. Williams -- said in a statement that there has been much inaccurate reporting in the case.

"Much of what has been reported over the last several days is inaccurate. Most disturbing is the attempt to link [Audrie's] suicide to the specific actions of these three boys," the statement reads.

None of the boys had ever been in trouble with the law before, the statement said, closing, "Due to the juvenile nature of the proceedings, we believe it inappropriate to comment further at this time."

The boys were arrested Thursday after an investigation that lasted several months.

Allard said the news “brought out new emotions” from Pott’s family, but they were happy the arrests had been made.

“They’ve lost their baby girl,” Allard said. “But they are relieved to know that after several months of these boys living their lives as though nothing had happened … finally justice is being served.”

Allard, the attorney for the Pott family, said his clients are pushing for “Audrie’s Law,” which would stiffen penalties for cyberbullying and strengthen laws on sexual assault by trying adolescents as adults.

“Her parents really want something positive to come from something like this,” he said.

The family hopes the suspects will be treated as adults as they move through the legal system, Allard said. They also believe the boys tried to conceal or destroy evidence -- “basically by pressing the delete button,” he said.

“They were certainly aware enough and mature enough to carry out something as elaborate as this, and they should be punished accordingly,” the attorney said.

Allard acknowledged that Pott and her friends had been drinking the night she was allegedly attacked. The parents of the teen whose home they were partying in were out of town for the weekend, he said, and the group got into a liquor cabinet. They mixed alcohol with Gatorade, he said, and “word spread there was a party.”

Pott had gone upstairs early to go to sleep, Allard said. When she woke up the next day, she “recognized immediately that something terrible had happened.”

Her parents “knew nothing about this,” he said, until after her death. Allard said that, based on conversations with her friends, Pott had indicated that “she didn’t think that she could take it” after the photo circulated.

One of her friends even asked that she not “do anything stupid,” Allard said.

“Obviously she was tormented,” he said. “They had spread the word as to what happened, circulated at least one photograph of what happened during the assault, and she was tortured by cyberbullying.”

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