SAN JOSE -- The family of a 15-year-old Saratoga girl plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit today against the three boys allegedly involved in the assault and the family who owns the house where the party occurred.
Robert Allard, the attorney for Audrie's family, said the "despicable" actions of the three teenagers, the alleged assault and then sharing at least one photo of the assault around school, "broke" Audrie and caused her to kill herself. Audrie's family did not realize what the young girl was going through until after her memorial service, when they began combing through her Facebook posts and text messages.
"In Audrie's Facebook messages we find writings of a young girl who felt traumatized, humiliated and shamed by what had been done to her," Allard said.
During a press conference this morning, Lisa Pott, Audrie's stepmother, quoted what Audrie wrote on her Facebook page in the days after the alleged assault.
"I'm in hell. Everyone knows about that night. My life is ruined."
Court documents obtained by the Mercury News indicate Audrie had sexually explicit messages and markings scrawled over her body.
Audrie Pott went to sleep after drinking alcohol at an unsupervised party on Sept. 2. When she woke up, she discovered her body was covered with "derogatory and sexual messages," according to court documents.
Audrie, a 15-year-old Saratoga sophomore killed herself at home on Sept. 10, eight days after the party. Thursday, three 16-year-old boys were arrested -- two at Saratoga High and one at Christopher High School in Gilroy -- in connection with the alleged assault and each booked into juvenile hall on two felony counts and one misdemeanor count.
Audrie felt betrayed by the three boys, who were her friends since middle school, according to family members.
During the party Audrie reportedly drank alcohol mixed with Gatorade, became intoxicated and unconscious, Allard said. Allard said she woke up to an "absolute nightmare." She had been sexually assaulted, according to her family. Larry Pott, her father, said the three boys were sober at the time, based on witness statements obtained by two former San Jose police detectives hired by Allard.
"These types of crimes are not juvenile," said Audrie's mother, Sheila Pott. "Sexual assault is an adult crime. These boys distributed pictures to humiliate and further bully my daughter."
The owners of the house where the party occurred will also be named as defendants in the suit.
Allard said after the party, at least one photo of the assault was distributed by the boys in person or via text messages. At school, Audrie saw groups of students looking at cell phones. Family members said the entire football team knew.
Larry Pott urged students to "do the right thing" and tell authorities what they know about what happened.
"These kids are good kids, but they are scared," he said of the students who saw the photo.
Allard and his investigative team of former San Jose detectives Ted Marfia and Mike Leininger interviewed some of the 13 teens who attended the party and were told none of the three boys in custody were drinking that night.
Reports filed by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and obtained by the Mercury News indicate the boys told investigators they had been drinking
The Potts said they plan on attending a detention hearing Tuesday for the three boys, who reportedly remain in juvenile hall, Allard said. The family believes the hearing will determine whether the boys will be released.
Allard said filing a civil lawsuit will aid in his investigative efforts, which "have been hampered by individuals not wanting to talk."
"We are now able to interview witnesses under the penalty of perjury," Allard said.
"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," Allard said."
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