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Attorney for Audrie Pott's family criticizes school officials

April 17, 2013|By Robert J. Lopez and Maria L. La Ganga
  • Sheila Pott, mother of Audrie Pott, who committed suicide after an alleged sexual assault, stands by a photograph of her daughter and message board during a news conference Monday.
Sheila Pott, mother of Audrie Pott, who committed suicide after an alleged… (Eric Risberg / Associated…)

An attorney representing the family of alleged sexual assault victim Audrie Pott expressed "disgust and dismay" Wednesday night with the manner in which the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District has responded to the incident.

Two of the three young men arrested in connection with the Labor Day weekend attack on Audrie attend Saratoga High School. The third youth attended the school but has since transferred to another district.

Officials announced Tuesday afternoon that the two youths, both 16, would not be returning to school "until the case against them is resolved." 

The three youths face charges of misdemeanor sexual battery, felony distribution of child pornography and felony forcible sexual penetration. 

In a statement Tuesday, Supt. Bob Mistele said the district has not responded to media inquiries about the incident because "all indications show this was not a school-related incident."

He said that two of the young men charged were members of the Saratoga football team. After the incident, they were removed from the team. But the accused could not be expelled, Mistele said, because "school districts cannot suspend or expel someone from school based solely on alleged behavior outside of school."

Attorney Robert Allard, who represents the family, said that multiple photos of Audrie were taken after she was unconscious and sexually assaulted. They were later spread among students, he said. 

A week after the incident, Audrie killed herself, after telling friends on Facebook that  "my life is over" and "I’m in hell. Everyone knows about that night."

"Whether the sexual assault occurred on or off campus, it is clear from the accounts of various students that the dissemination of at least one photograph occurred on school grounds for the specific purpose to harass and intimidate Audrie while she was attending school-related activities," Allard said in a statement. "It is our sincere hope that the district simply accepts responsibility for its conduct and ceases its effort to mask the truth of what truly occurred.  Only then can the healing process begin for everyone."

Earlier Tuesday, Allard said the family had filed a claim against the school district for the way officials handled events surrounding the 15-year-old’s death -- and might sue the district in the future.

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Twitter: @LAJourno

robert.lopez@latimes.com

Twitter: @marialaganga

maria.laganga@latimes.com

 

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