Audrie Pott's Family Pushes for Legislation In Wake of Sex-Assault Suicide

Friday, 12 Apr 2013 01:36 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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The family of Audrie Pott, the 15-year-old California girl who committed suicide last year after allegedly being sexually abused while unconscious, and then later humiliated by online photos, is pushing for legislation.

Though it's general practice not to publicize the name of an underage sexual assault victim, Pott's parents and stepmother purposely released the girl's name and photo to the media in hopes that the case will become a model for the law bearing her name.

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"Audrie's Law would address some of the things that happened here," Pott family attorney Robert Allard told the San Jose Mercury News. "There are two common elements here that are being repeated across the country — sexual assault by an adolescent and the cyberbullying that follows."

In September, eight days after she was reportedly sexually battered while passed out at a party, and then mortified by the online photos of the assault, Pott, a Saratoga High School student, posted on Facebook that her life was ruined, "worst day ever," and hanged herself.

On Thursday, seven months after Pott's death, three 16-year-old boys — all current or former Saratoga High students — were arrested on charges of sexual battery in connection with the incident. Allard said the Pott family has mixed emotions about the arrests.

"The wound is still very raw," he told Mercury News. "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."

Santa Clara County Sheriff's Lt. Jose Cardoza said they arrested two of the teens at Saratoga High School and the third, a former Saratoga High student, at Christopher High School in Gilroy on Thursday, according to the Associated Press. The names of the suspects were not released because they are minors.

Cardoza reportedly said the suspects were booked into juvenile hall and face two felonies and one misdemeanor each, all related to sexual battery that allegedly occurred at a Saratoga house party last year.

The lieutenant said the arrests were the result of information gathered by his agency's Saratoga High School resource officers. He said the investigation is ongoing, and Los Gatos police also continue looking into the girl's September suicide.

The girl's family members have requested privacy until a planned news conference Tuesday. Her father and step-mother Lawrence and Lisa Pott, along with her mother Sheila Pott, have started the Audrie Pott Foundation to provide music and art scholarships and offer youth counseling and support.

The foundation website alludes to the teen's struggles, but until now neither law enforcement, school officials nor family have discussed the sexual battery.

"She was compassionate about life, her friends, her family, and would never do anything to harm anyone," the site says. "She was in the process of developing the ability to cope with the cruelty of this world but had not quite figured it all out.

"Ultimately, she had not yet acquired the antibiotics to deal with the challenges present for teens in today's society."

Editor's Note: The IRS’ Worst Nightmare — How to Pay Zero Taxes

Related stories:

Do Social Networking Sites Lead to Suicide?

A Case of Rape in Steubenville, Ohio

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