SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The family of a girl who committed suicide after she was sexually assaulted and a photo of the act was shared in text messages said Monday the three 16-year-old boys responsible were sober when the assault happened.
Audrie Pott's father, mother and step-mother made their first public comments about their daughter's death and the events leading to it during an interview with Fox News that was followed by a news conference.
They said they were outraged by what they see as a refusal to take responsibility by the three boys arrested in the attack on the 15-year-old girl in Saratoga, a bedroom community on the fringe of Silicon Valley.
In addition, Lisa Pott, the girl's stepmother, said the boys were sober, making their actions cold and calculated. The suspects were friends of Audrie, family attorney Robert Allard said.
Audrie's father, Larry Pott, said he was astounded that defense lawyers for the three have said there is no link between the sharing of the humiliating photo and his daughter's decision to end her life.
The boys were arrested Thursday — eight months after Audrie Pott posted online that her life was ruined and then hanged herself.
"This period has been difficult for us because the wounds are so fresh," her father Lawrence Pott told the heavily attended news conference. "We miss her every day, but now we must carry on and share her story so that this epidemic of sexual assault and cyberbullying amongst teens can be exposed and stopped."
Eric Geffon, who represents one of the suspected teens, said the boys were cited last fall but no formal charges were filed against them until Santa Clara County sheriff's deputies arrested two boys at Saratoga High School and a third, a former Saratoga High student, at Christopher High in Gilroy where he currently was a student.
As of Sunday night, all three 16-year-old boys were still being held in the Santa Clara County detention center.
Pott also had been a student at Saratoga High.
On the night she was assaulted, Pott drank alcohol mixed with Gatorade at a Labor Day sleepover party, then went upstairs and fell asleep "and woke up to the worst nightmare imaginable," Allard said.
Over the next week, she pieced together who had sexually battered her and realized at least one humiliating photo was electronically being passed around the school.
"She was being consoled by other friends and they were concerned about her. One day she apparently felt that she couldn't cope with it anymore and poor Audrie was traumatized to the point where she ended her life," Allard said on Monday.
Geffon said much of what has been reported is incorrect, including the family's assertion that the boys were not cooperating with investigators. He added that the Santa Clara County sheriff's decision to arrest the boys just days prior to a civil lawsuit being filed seems "awfully coincidental."
Family spokesman Ed Vasquez said Audrie's family decided to speak out Monday to "raise awareness about teenage bullying, harassment, sexual assault, and the use of electronic media to disseminate images that humiliate and in this case drove their daughter to take her life."
Backed by a large banner signed with loving messages from dozens of classmates and friends, Allard said the suspects are responsible for the Audrie's decision to end her life. The family is adamant that the suspects be tried as adults, he said.
"They will apparently have you believe that what they did and what Audrie did was just a coincidence," Allard said, alluding to a statement from the boys' attorneys. "Frankly this sent us over the edge because it tells us that these boys and their families to this day refuse to accept responsibility."