Six teenagers will appear in Massachusetts courts next week to face charges in the death of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, who committed suicide after allegedly being bullied.
Prince, an Irish immigrant, was tormented primarily by schoolmates at South Hadley High School, and via Facebook and texts, said Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel when she announced an unprecedented show of prosecutorial force on March 29.
In addition to the six teenagers heading for adult and juvenile court next week, prosecutors charged another three youths – all minors – in Prince’s Jan. 14 death.
“I can’t think of a time when they’ve come down so hard on kids,” says Barbara Coloroso, a Littleton, Colo.-based bullying expert.
Teachers Allegedly Knew
Scheibel contends that South Hadley High School faculty knew of the bullying, which she says went on for months, and that Phoebe’s mother told school personnel about it.
But South Hadley School Superintendent Gus Sayer told PEOPLE that school staff did not know Phoebe was bullied until an incident occurred a week prior to her death, and the two students involved on that day were punished. While some in town demand that Sayer and principal Dan Smith resign, others support the embattled administrators, claiming they truly did not know.
Friends of Prince’s say that in late 2009 she briefly dated Sean Mulveyhill, now 17, the captain of the football team who was also dating Kayla Narey, 17, which Phoebe did not know. After this, they say, the bullying by girls jealous of Prince’s good looks and popularity with boys intensified.
On the last day of her life, Phoebe endured several different incidents in school of being called an Irish whore, followed by a can thrown at her as she walked to her nearby home after school. By 4:30 p.m. that day, her younger sister found Phoebe dead by hanging at home.
Arraignments are set for Tuesday for Mulveyhill, Austin Renaud, 18 – both charged with statutory rape – and Narey, charged with violation of civil rights with bodily injury resulting and criminal harassment, according to a clerk at Hampshire Superior Court in Northampton, Mass.
On Thursday, Ashley Longe, Flannery Mullins, and Sharon Chanon Velazquez, all 16, will be arraigned in another court, a clerk magistrate says. All are charged as adults in Franklin-Hampshire Juvenile Court with counts including violation of civil rights with bodily injury resulting and stalking.
• Additional reporting by JUDY RAKOWSKY
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