Pott family tells harrowing tale of daughter's bullying before suicide

April 16, 2013 at 4:34 PM
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SAN JOSE, Calif., April 16 (UPI) -- A California family revealed their teenage daughter was sexually assaulted at a party and tormented about it at school in the weeks before she hanged herself.

Audrie Pott, 15, attended a house party in September with other classmates at Saratoga High School in San Jose, Calif., when she drank too much and passed out.

She awoke hours later to find she'd been stripped naked, her body covered by marker, with humiliating messages written on her breasts and body. One side of her face had been colored black.

Three 16-year-old youths were suspected of carrying out the assault. The San Jose Mercury News said the boys photographed Pott afterward and showed the pictures to classmates who in turn taunted and bullied Pott.

Her family said she spent her last days begging friends on Facebook to tell her what had happened at the party.

"I'm in hell. Everyone knows about that night," she wrote in one message to a friend that her family recounted during a packed news conference Monday. "The whole school is talking about it."

Police documents show the boys did not rape Pott but they allegedly touched her in a sexual manner.

The three suspects were pulled out of class last week and arrested by Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies following a seven month investigation. They are charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor involving sexual battery and the dissemination of child pornography.

Members of the Pott family, speaking out for the first time, said they hoped by going public it would convince state lawmakers to crack down on Internet bullying.

The family has also questioned actions by the high school principal, who allowed the three boys to remain in school with Pott even though Shelia Pott, Audrie's mother, demanded they be expelled.

"This breach of trust would be difficult for an adult to handle, let alone a young girl," Shelia Pott said.

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