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'I'm in hell': cruel twist in case of alleged sexual assault, cyber-bullying and suicide

Maria L. La Ganga and Kate Mather (via Los Angeles Times/ SMH) | April 19, 2013

Much is still not known about what really happened. Because the suspects are juveniles, their names have not been released. Their lawyers did not respond to calls for comment. The Santa Clara County district attorney's office has not talked about the case.

But Kurtis Stenderup, a spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department, confirmed that the three suspects were students at Saratoga High School when the incident occurred and that one of the youths had since transferred.

"Audrie committed suicide, and then we were told of a possible sexual assault that occurred," Deputy Stenderup said. "We're working backward. We're still trying to piece it together ... Multiple search warrants were written and served, and multiple computers and multiple cellphones were seized."

Deputy Stenderup said officials "really are hampered" because "getting kids to co-operate is difficult".

Mr Allard and the Pott family on Monday urged anyone who had been to the party or seen the photo to come forward and co-operate with authorities.

In a statement released after the arrests, lawyers for the three suspects said that much of what had been reported in the media was inaccurate. What they described in the statement as "most disturbing" was "the attempt to link [Audrie's] suicide to the specific actions of these three boys".

On Monday, Mr Allard said that statement had sent the Pott family "over the edge".

"These boys distributed pictures to humiliate and further bully my daughter," said Sheila Pott, Audrie's mother. "These individuals calculated their assault, harassed the victim with the photos and then took steps to cover up the evidence.

"There was no remorse here. These were not the actions of a child but of a person whose values systems are so skewed that they will do this again."

Lisa Pott said that the family "had no idea what happened to Audrie until after her memorial service". But after talking with her friends, checking her Facebook account and looking at her mobile phone, a picture began to emerge. The family started its own investigation.

"We were able to find statements made by Audrie herself in the last week of her life that draws a direct connection between her death and what the three young men did to her," Lisa Pott said.

And then she read the young girl's words, culled, she said, from messages Audrie had sent to her friends on Facebook:

"My life is over."

"I'm in hell. Everyone knows about that night."

"My life is ruined and I don't even remember how."

"I have a reputation for a night I don't even remember and the whole school knows."

The Pott family has said they will file a civil wrongful-death lawsuit and push for an "Audrie's Law" to try to make sure that what happened to their daughter does not happen to any other child.

 

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