SARATOGA -- Three 16-year-old boys were arrested Thursday in the sexual battery of an intoxicated and unconscious 15-year-old Saratoga High School student, who killed herself last fall after photos of the assault went viral.
When digital photos showing what had happened "spread like wildfire," the aftermath was so humiliating and torturous the gifted and well-loved Audrie Pott could no longer take it, said Robert Allard, the attorney for her family.
"Poor Audrie was terrorized by cyberbullying," Allard said.
She posted on Facebook, calling it the "worst day in her life," a life she now wanted to end -- which she did Sept. 10, eight days after the assault.
Allard said Thursday that Audrie's family
"The wound is still very raw," he said. "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."
According to Santa Clara County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Jose Cardoza, the boys were booked into juvenile hall on two felony and one misdemeanor count each after authorities received information from school resource officers at Audrie's school. Their names are being withheld because they are juveniles. Allard said Audrie's parents hope they won't be treated as juveniles in court.
This newspaper does not, as a rule, identify victims of sexual assault. But in this case, Pott's family wanted her name and case known, Allard said. The family also provided a photo to The Associated Press.
They want their beloved daughter's case to become a model for a law bearing her name.
"Audrie's Law would address some of the things that happened here," Allard said. "There are two common elements here that are being repeated across the country -- sexual assault by an adolescent and the cyberbullying that follows."
Allard said nearly all children have cellphones, each one a potential tool for defamation.
"They are all capable of instantly spreading information into the community in the most volatile ways," he said. The power of pressing a button is immense."
Audrie's parents and stepmother, who asked for privacy until a Tuesday news conference, started a foundation aimed at providing kids with music and art scholarships -- two of the great loves in their daughter's life. The Audrie Pott foundation, at audriepottfoundation.com, also offers youth counseling and support.
According to the foundation website, Audrie was a gifted artist who played the viola and piano and loved to sing. She also played soccer and was "fast and tenacious with a nose for the goal."
"She was compassionate about life, her friends, her family, and would never do anything to harm anyone," according to the site. "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."
Allard said the sexual assault happened when Audrie went to a party hosted by a sophomore girl from her school. The student's parents were out of town in Napa, and she invited friends over.
"You know how that goes: word gets out and then there were 10 to 15 kids there."
He said Audrie had been there early, and by the time others arrived later she was already passed out.
"It was one of those things where she was thinking that she was safe and secure but she was not," he said. "She was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people."
At the Tuesday conference, Allard said they will reveal more about the case as well as a civil suit that is in the works. Allard would not specify the defendant named in that litigation.
Los Gatos-Saratoga school district officials stated that their "sympathies go out to all of the families affected by this tragic situation."
"We are cooperating with law enforcement as they continue to look into the details of this case," Superintendent Bob Mistele wrote in an email to this newspaper. "Collaborating with our parents, students, staff and community we will continue to work diligently to maintain a positive climate at our high schools based on respect, responsibility, and open communication that discourages cyber bullying and inappropriate conduct."
Staff writer Sharon Noguchi contributed to this report. Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.