SAN JOSE, Calif. – A 15-year-old girl hanged herself over speculated bullying, a week after three classmates photographed themselves sexually assaulting her at a 2012 party, scared for her life the boys would circulate the photos online and believing gossip about her was spreading widely.
Audrie Pott’s story captured nationwide attention for those concerned with teenage bullying, which appears to be skyrocketing with the aid of smartphones and social media – though it rarely ends as tragically as Pott’s case in suicide.
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) March 22, 2015
A wrongful death trial taking place in San Jose this month will determine if bullying played a part in the young girl’s suicide. Lawyers are scheduled to argue Wednesday over what evidence the jury will hear – opening statements are expected to begin next week.
The three boys, now high school seniors, and other teens are expected to give uncomfortable and emotional testimonies about the party where Audrie was sexually assaulted after passing out drunk and other events leading up to her suicide, Seattle Pi reported. It is expected they will describe teenage life in an affluent suburb of privilege, divorce, and their reliance on smartphones and social media outlets.
Audrie’s parents argue that assault and fear of online ridicule were the cause of her suicide, and they have pursued a wrongful death lawsuit against the boys, their families and others for three years that will culminate with the three-week trial.
Her parents say the boys should be held responsible and hope this will draw attention to bullying, social media shaming and teen suicide. One of the three teens told attorneys that in the weeks before Audrie’s suicide, the trio exchanged racy selfies of girls they badgered into taking the photos.
That boy and his family recently apologized to the Pott family and have agreed to pay $600,000 to settle their portion of the case. The other two boys are insistent they weren’t responsible for Audrie’s suicide because she had other problems.