The Audrie Pott Foundation announced Saturday it is planning to hold a candlelight vigil at Saratago High School next Friday at 8 p.m. It is the first public event surrounding the death of the 15-year-old since three teenagers were arrested following the girl's suicide in September and an alleged sexual assault in the days ahead of her death.
NBC Bay Area was the first to report on Thursday that Audrie Pott of Saratoga committed suicide Sept. 10, 2012, eight days after three 16-year-old boys had allegedly sexually assaulted her and posted the photos of her online. Her attorney, Robert Allard, said that "based on what we know," Audrie was intoxicated, unconsious and "there were multiple boys in the room with her. They did unimaginable things to her..."
NBC Bay Area doesn't normally identify victims of sexual assault or suicide, but have used the girl’s name in this report with her parents’ permission. They are hoping the story will help prevent something like this from every happening to anyone else.
The parents, who have been in seclusion since this story broke have scheduled a news conference Monday morning at a San Jose hotel.
The boys were arrested on Thursday - seven months after the alleged incident. They are now in juvenile hall, though no charges have been formally filed. They are expected to appear in court next Tuesday. NBC Bay Area has learned that three 16-year-old boys were cited in September on a misdemeanor charge of sexual battery and then released.
The boy's lawyers released the following statement late Friday claiming the suicide had nothing to do with their clients:
Much of what has been reported over the last several days is inaccurate. Most disturbing is the attempt to link Audrey’s [sic] suicide to the specific actions of these three boys.
We are hopeful that everyone understands that these boys, none of whom have ever been in trouble with the law, are to be regarded as innocent.
Due to the juvenile nature of the proceedings, we believe it inappropriate to comment further at this time.
The release was signed, Eric. S. Geffon, Alan M. Lagod, Benajmin W. Williams.
The Pott's family lawyer said she took her life after learning that her attackers took photos during the assault, and then published them online and showed them around school. They did not know about the assault until after her death.
Through a Facebook post, family members accused the suspects of attempting to destroy evidence in the case.
On Friday, they posted a message claiming that the male teens who allegedly attacked her tried to cover up their actions.
We suspect that the boys who we believe are responsible for Audrie’s death took deliberate steps to destroy evidence and interfere with the police investigation. If students have information about this crime, if they saw pictures or know anything that will assist in bringing these young men to justice, please come forward. Audrie's family is asking for any students with information to please contact our attorney, Robert Allard at email@example.com or 408-289-1417
Sheriff Smith told the NBC Bay Area investigative unit that her department does in fact believe it is missing a key piece of evidence. She described it as a "critical elecronic device" that has not been turned over. It appeared the sheriff may have been hoping to get pictures relating to the case from that device.
This is not the first high-profile rape case of a young woman investigated by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.
In March 2007, members of the De Anza College baseball team were accused of raping a drunk 17-year-old girl. In that case, the district attorney at the time, Dolores Carr, ended up not filing charges against the young men because she didn't feel there were sufficient charges to convince a jury. In 2008, the Attorney General's Office agreed, even though her decision not to prosecute was questioned widely.
And in a case eerily similar to Audrie's, 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons of Halifax, Novia Scotia in Canada, was taken off life support on Sunday, three days after she tried to hang herself. She had been allegedly sexually assaulted by four boys in November 2011 when she was 15 and then relentlessly cyberbullied.
The Canadian authorities had conducted a yearlong investigation into the rape, but no charges were ever filed.
The Saratoga case is now getting national attention. The foundation website set up in Audrie's honor has crashed many times due to the volume of people trying to see it.