True Crime

Another Steubenville? California Teens Arrested in Sexual Assault and Suicide Case

04/12/2013 at 09:30 AM EDT

California Teens Arrested in Sexual Assault of Classmate Who Committed Suicide
Audrie Pott, in photo from the Audrie Pott Foundation
Courtesy Audrie Pott Foundation
Three California teen boys have been arrested and charged with the alleged sexual assault of their classmate while she was intoxicated and passed out at a house party.

Audrie Pott, 15, whom police have named publicly at the wishes of her family, later committed suicide by hanging herself after photos of the attack were posted online, in a case similar to the teenage sexual assault of a high school student in Steubenville, Ohio, last year. A judge found two boys in that case guilty.

The California incident occurred in September 2012 when Pott, who attended Saratoga High School, went to a party at the home of a friend whose parents had gone out of town. She passed out and was allegedly attacked as she was unconscious. When photos of the alleged rape spread online, the traumatized student posted on her own Facebook page that it was the "worst day of her life."

Eight days later, she hanged herself.

"Poor Audrie was terrorized by cyber-bullying," an attorney for Pott's family, Robert Allard, told the San Jose Mercury News. "After an extensive investigation that we have conducted on behalf of the family, there is no doubt in our minds that the victim, then only 15 years old, was savagely assaulted by her fellow high school students while she lay on a bed completely unconscious."

The family, which has set up a charitable foundation for music and art scholarships, two of Audrie's passions, is calling for a new law bearing their late daughter's name.

"Audrie's Law would address some of the things that happened here," Allard told the paper. "There are two common elements here that are being repeated across the country – sexual assault by an adolescent and the cyber-bullying that follows."



Arrested Seven Months Later

A school resource officer tipped off authorities to the attack and the students involved. The teens, two 16 and one 15, were not arrested until seven months later. They were booked Thursday into a juvenile facility and charged with two felony counts and one misdemeanor count each, according to a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department.

The Pott family said they hope the teens will be charged as adults, not juveniles. "The wound is still very raw," their attorney said of the family. "They want to feel as if justice will be done after these kids were arrested, seven months after acting as if nothing had happened. But at the same time it's a reminder that Audrie is gone."

The case mirrors yet another in Nova Scotia where 15-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons committed suicide last Sunday after she was allegedly sexually assaulted in 2011 by four boys and later bullied after they shared cellphone photos of the attack with classmates. Police there said wasn't enough evidence to charge the teens in the case.

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