Audrie Pott's father, Larry Pott, stands beside her mother, Sheila… (Eric Risberg / Associated…)
SAN JOSE -- Attorneys and family members of a 15-year-old who killed herself said Monday that pictures of an alleged sexual assault against the girl had been viewed by at least 10 students at Saratoga High School.
Audrie Pott, a sophomore, became intoxicated during a Labor Day weekend party at the home of a friend whose parents were away, attorney Robert Allard said. The students got into a liquor cabinet at the Saratoga, Calif., home, and at least one of the three 16-year-old boys allegedly involved in the assault also brought alcohol to the party, he said.
The suspects were all members of the Saratoga High School football team and had been friends with Audrie since junior high school, Allard said. But after Audrie passed out at the party, he said, they assaulted her, wrote on her body, took at least one picture and texted it to friends. He said that according to witnesses, the boys were all sober.
"The name of someone that said, 'Blank was here,' was written in marker on her leg," Allard said. "And there were other markings as well. They drew on her, in addition to doing what they did."
Recent reports in the Saratoga High School newspaper, the Falcon, and the San Jose Mercury News raised questions over whether photos of Audrie's alleged assault had gone "viral" or even been posted online. Last week, an attorney for Audrie's family said the teenager had commented on Facebook that "the whole school" knew about the alleged attack.
In an opinion piece Sunday, Samuel Liu, one of the Falcon’s four editors in chief, pondered the consequences.
“What seems to be happening is that this already horrible situation is being twisted to fit an agenda against cyberbullying,” Liu wrote. “I understand that cyberbullying is a problem that needs to be addressed. But to allow a tragedy to be twisted to fit an otherwise worthy cause? That’s not right.”
Yet the paper’s editorial staff reconsidered after hearing Robert Allard, the family's attorney, speak Monday.
“We are not trying to lessen Audrie's case or sympathize with the boys in any way,” they wrote, saying they thought Allard was persuasive “when he said that it didn’t matter how many people had seen the photos, what mattered was that people did see the photos and that Audrie thought that everyone knew about the incident."
During a Monday morning news conference, Audrie’s mother, father and stepmother -- along with Allard -- said that to them, it didn't matter how many people saw the photos.
"I don't care if it was 10 people who knew or 100 people who knew," said her stepmother, Lisa Pott. "In her mind it was an epidemic."
Audrie's perception is what was most important, the family said.
"In Audrie's own words, 'the whole school knows,'" Allard said. "It's important to focus on what Audrie was thinking."
“Sexual assault is an adult crime,” said Sheila Pott, Audrie’s mother. “These boys distributed the picture to humiliate and bully my daughter…. They were her friends. This breach of trust would be difficult for an adult to handle, let alone a young girl.”
The family plans to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit by the end of the day, Allard said.
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