The parents of Audrie Pott, the 15-year-old girl who took her own life in 2012 eight days after an incident of sexual assault and subsequent humiliation by several boys, are entering the final phase of what has been a three-year battle to raise awareness of teen bullying and to punish those responsible. As the AP reports, opening arguments begin next week in a wrongful death case brought by Pott's parents against two of the three teen boys involved, who are now 18 but whose names have been withheld because the incident happened when they were 15.
What happened on September 2, 2012, is that Pott attended an unsupervised house party in Saratoga where she consumed some Gatorade spiked with vodka, and passed out. While unconscious, she was digitally penetrated, lewd things were written on her body, and she was photographed in this state. What happened after is that the boys involved apparently circulated the photos among themselves, and Pott believed they were going to be posted online. A week later, after a Facebook post in which she said her life had been ruined, she took her own life, hanging herself with a belt.
The case ultimately gained national attention and drew comparisons to the Steubenville, Ohio rape case which involved a similarly unconscious female who was subsequently humiliated via photographs and video. The following April, three boys were arrested in connection with Audrie's assault, as well as a female classmate who was accused of encouraging the assault.
The teens ultimately admitted guilt and received sentences of 30 to 45 days for the assault. Subsequently, as we now learn from court records, "The family that owned the house where the party occurred when they were out of town agreed to pay $100,000 to settle their portion of the lawsuit. The family of [the female classmate] who witnessed the assault and tried to cover it up paid $150,000 to settle, and the mother of one of the boys facing trial paid $25,000." Also, the parents of one of the three boys directly involved in the assault paid an out-of-court settlement of $600,000 to the Potts, so he is not involved with this trial.
Lawyers for the other two boys are expected to argue that Audrie Pott had other problems, including an estranged dad who had recently contacted her and a best friend who had recently "broken up" with her, and that they are not responsible for her suicide. A judge is deciding this week what evidence the jury will hear, but they will undoubtedly here a lot of "uncomfortable and emotional testimony about the party where Audrie was sexually assaulted," as the AP notes.
The case continues to draw attention from anti-bullying conferences and advocates, and the jury's verdict in this case will be closely watched for its implications in future cases. Pott's parents hope that the result is graver consequences for culprits in such cases.