The family of a 15-year-old who killed herself after she was raped and cyberbullied has announced plans to sue the three accused teenage boys for wrongful death.
Three 16-year-old boys were arrested in California last week and charged with sexually assaulting Audrie Pott while she was passed out at a Labor Day party eight months prior. Photos of the assault turned up online and circulated around her school. Audrie committed suicide Sept. 12 by hanging herself.
Her family spoke at a press conference Monday where they announced their plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the three boys accused, their family, and the family of the girl who hosted the party where the assault allegedly took place.
"This period has been difficult for us because the wounds are so fresh," Audrie's father, Lawrence Pott, said at the press conference. "We miss her every day, but now we must carry on and share her story so that this epidemic of sexual assault and cyberbullying amongst teens can be exposed and stopped."
Audrie Pott and two of the boys attended Saratoga High School together.
Her father and the family’s attorney Robert Allard said they were troubled by a statement made by the boys’ lawyers.
"They will apparently have you believe that what they did and what Audrie did was just a coincidence," Allard said.
Audrie’s stepmother, Lisa Pott, read aloud from messages Audrie made on Facebook shortly after the assault: "My life is ruined ... The whole school is talking about it. My life is over ... I have a reputation for a night I don't even remember and the whole school knows."
The news comes just one week after the death of Nova Scotia teen Rehtaeh Parsons, who also alleged that teen boys had raped her at a party while she was heavily intoxicated. The teens also took pictures of the girl, who was 16 at the time, and shared them with classmates. Rehtaeh suffered bullying at school and eventually even relocated in an attempt to escape.
Holding the assailants responsible for Pott’s suicide could set a precedent. Kirk and Laura Smalley, parents of 11-year-old suicide victim Ty Field-Smalley, sparked an organization called Stand for the Silent in Oklahoma after their bullied son took his life. Kirk said in the documentary film “Bully” that if a bartender is responsible for over-serving a customer and the acts they commit when they leave the bar, then teachers and bullies themselves should be responsible for the suicidal action taken by bullied kids.