Teens Settle with Family of 15-Year-Old Who Committed Suicide Following Sexual Assault
The families of two boys who admitted to sexually assaulting a California teenager who then committed suicide have agreed to pay the girl’s family $950,000 as part of a settlement in a wrongful-death lawsuit.
Audrie Pott was just 15 years old when she took her own life in September 2012 after photos of the assault spread online.
She told her mother she was spending the night with a friend. Instead, she went to a party, where she drank too much vodka and passed out in an upstairs bedroom. When she woke, she found her half-naked body covered in mean scribbles, her reputation ruined for a night she didn’t remember, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
“My life is over,” the distraught teen messaged her friends on Facebook before hanging herself.
Three boys, who were 15 to 16 years old at the time, were arrested in connection with the crime. They admitted in court to digitally penetrating the teen girl and taking photos of the incident, which they later shared with their fellow classmates.
Two of them were sentenced to 30 days in jail, which they served on weekends so they could still attend school, the newspaper reports. The third was sentenced to 45 consecutive days. The boys are not being identified because they were minors at the time of the crime.
Angered by what they believed to be mild sentences, Audrie’s parents, Sheila and Larry Pott, who are divorced, then sued the boys for their daughter’s death.
One boy settled with Sheila and Larry weeks ago, but the other two only reached a settlement with the family on Friday, just days before the case was due to go to trial, the Associated Press reports.
In addition to the money they must pay, the two boys agreed to give presentations about “sexting,” “slut-shaming,” the dissemination and solicitation of nude photographs, and the dangers of spreading rumors, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
They also agreed to publicly apologize to Audrie’s parents. “I wish Audrie was still here, and I miss her a lot,” one boy, now 18, said, per the Mercury News. “She was a great person who didn’t deserve anything that happened to her due to my actions. I apologize. I wish I could make it right.”
The second said he wished he could “take back the pain and suffering I caused Audrie and the Pott family. This has caused a tragedy to all involved due to my actions. I will do everything I can to mentor teens to not do what I did in September 2012.”
In a statement on Saturday, the Potts said they forgive the boys for their actions. “It is not coincidental that this resolution occurred on Good Friday, a day when all of our sins were forgiven,” they said, per the Mercury News.
“The spirit of Audrie was felt by all of us through the entire negotiation process. She was telling us it was time to move forward in a positive direction,” they added.
In the wake of Audrie’s death, her parents – together with Larry’s second wife, Lisa – set up a foundation in Audrie’s name and championed new legislation that increases the punishment for juveniles convicted of sexually abusing unconscious victims. Known as “Audrie’s Law,” the bill was passed last year.
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