“They drew on me.” In black marker, the three 16-year-old boys from Saratoga High School accused of stripping and sexually assaulting 15-year-old Audrie Pott during a house party on Labor Day weekend scribbled taunting, humiliating messages on her breast and body, court documents and lawyers for Audrie’s family revealed for the first time Monday.
Then they took pictures and showed at least one to their friends. “Most of the football team knew,” her stepmother Lisa Pott said, and Audrie had seen students on campus crowding around the cell phone of one of the boys.
In her final eight days before hanging herself Sept. 10 at the Los Altos home she shared with her mother, Audrie sent direct messages to her close friends on Facebook, pleading with them for information about what had happened during a friend’s party where she drank too much alcohol mixed with Gatorade and passed out in a bedroom, her parents said Monday in their first public statements. She woke up with her shorts off and arrows, circles and nasty comments scrawled on her body. The left side of her face was colored black.
“I’m in hell. Everyone knows about that night,” Audrie wrote, her family recounted during a packed news conference Monday. “The whole school is talking about it.”
Many of the details emerged Monday when this newspaper obtained search warrants and a police report from a court file that was briefly public. In the news conference,
“This breach of trust would be difficult for an adult to handle, let alone a young girl,” her mother, Sheila Pott, said, standing in front of photos of the smiling teenager.
The shocking case of teen sexual assault and cyber bullying created a national media firestorm when the three boys were pulled out of classes and arrested last week after a seven-month investigation by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department. The boys — whose names are being withheld because of their ages — are each being held in juvenile hall on suspicion of two felonies and a misdemeanor involving sexual battery and the dissemination of child pornography.
The documents clarify that there was no evidence of sexual intercourse, but that one of the suspects said that the other two boys touched Audrey sexually. The sheriff’s report also describes writing on her breast that “(blank) was here” — referring to another boy at the party who was not in the bedroom — and the drawing of arrows and circles and other scribbles all over her body and close to her genitalia.
The three boys are expected to appear at a Tuesday morning hearing in juvenile court. The Pott family said Monday they are filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against the families of the three boys. They are also suing the family of the girl who hosted the party and accessed the liquor cabinet while her parents were gone. The Pott family went public with Audrie’s name in the hopes of spurring an anti-bullying law that would increase penalties against juveniles for this kind of behavior.
“It is the family’s goal that the community is made safer by holding the suspects accountable, by sending a message that the behavior that left Audrie feeling hopeless and without a way out, such as harassment and bullying of any kind, electronically or not, will not be tolerated,” said the family’s lawyer, Robert Allard.
The case also calls into question the statements and actions of Saratoga High School Principal Paul Robinson, who told a weekly newspaper a few weeks after the suicide that bullying had nothing to do with Audrie’s death, even though he was aware of the police investigation at the time. The boys were allowed to remain in school despite the pleas of Audrie’s parents to have them expelled, the family said.
“We asked for them to be expelled and they would not do it,” Lisa Pott said.
She said school officials had explained that since the alleged sexual assault had not taken place on campus, they were powerless to expel the boys. The parents argued that the harassment happened on campus, with the sharing of photos and rumors. One of the boys transferred to Christopher High School in Gilroy, where he was arrested last week. The other boys remained at Saratoga High. Early reports said at least one photo of Audrie had “gone viral,” but the family clarified that it appeared the photo was shared through text messages among friends and they weren’t sure how far it spread. Dozens of students the newspaper interviewed over the past several days said they had not seen any images.
“I don’t know whether 10 people knew or 100 people knew,” Lisa Pott said. “In her mind, it was epidemic that everyone knew.”
Witnesses describe a booze-filled party on Sept. 2, when Audrie was “in the kitchen and she was falling over and tripping,” according to an account by one attendee given to sheriff’s investigators. When she awoke in the morning, the report states, Audrie’s memory was reportedly hazy but she slowly began to realize what happened to her.
A witness told investigators that Audrie “was scared because someone had put her in a room and took off her clothes, leaving her underwear on.” One of the suspects told an investigator he thought it had been funny to draw all over Audrie, the sheriff’s report says.
The court documents highlight the difficulty investigators had in convincing students who were at the party — and their parents — to tell the truth. One girl told investigators, “I just don’t want to throw anyone under the bus.”
Audrie’s father, Larry Pott, implored students to come forward and “do the right thing” to get to the truth of what happened and why and who knew.
Days after the party, a friend argued with Audrie over her behavior in recent months, including drinking too much and hanging out with bad influences, the court papers say.
On the day she died, Audrie was upset when her mother picked her up from school, her mother told reporters Monday. “I asked her what was wrong, you need to tell me,” Sheila Pott said. But all her daughter would tell her was, “I can’t do this anymore.”
“Make it through one more day,” said her mother, adding that Audrie had had trouble with fellow students over the past couple of years and didn’t think this was any different. Later, she found her daughter hanging in the bathroom. Audrie survived on life support for two more days before her organs were donated.
Sheila Pott said she had no idea at that point that her daughter had been sexually assaulted a week earlier, that photos had disseminated or that her daughter had appealed to friends on Facebook. Only after Audrie’s memorial service, when some of her friends told her mother there was “more to the story,” did they search her cell phone and Facebook account.
In the hushed news conference, her stepmother read a list of Audrie’s desperate, typewritten pleas:
“My life is ruined. I can’t do anything to fix it. I just want this to go away. My life is over. The people I thought I could trust f-ed me over and then tried to lie to cover it up. I have a reputation for a night I don’t even remember and the whole school knows.”
Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409. Source
I did not know really how to approach this terrible, terrible story that on one side is devoid of humanity while the other side is laden with tragedy, loss and one question how in the hell can people so young be so capable of such evil as was perpetrated upon this poor poor girl? What I do know is my heart broke when I read this story though I did not know this girl at all, but this type of thing seems to be happening more frequently. Where are the parents of these boys? How did these punks come to think that what they did to that poor girl was an acceptable action. My heart and prayers go out to Audrie and her family, I know I am unknown to them but rest assured there are good people who will read of Audrie and reach out to let her family know they are in our prayers while Audrie is in gods arms now. Nothing can undo this evil but justice will be done. This is just one installment in the Erosion of Humanity series I have started. Sadly there are more and more stories like this rising to public view. What I do know is that social media plays a part in this and a lack of guidelines and protocols make it all to easy for people to do the wrong thing. Say Facebook had a rule that a photo had to be approved by a moderator before it could be made public and as well nothing containing nudity would be allowed. Sadly it is us who has to decide what is acceptable because more and more we are seeing it is not happening at home. Social Media is a free-fire zone where people can say and do almost anything and are rarely held accountable for it and most never stop to think about the damage they are inflicting on other people. Something needs to change and we as a nation need to assure that what happened to Audrie never destroys another innocent life.