The shocking news about Audrie Pott's alleged sexual assault and subsequent suicide seven months ago broke last week, shocking the nation when yet another 15-year-old girl seemed to fall prey to the horrors of cyber bullying.
But Friday night, family, friends and strangers gathered at Audrie's former school - Saratoga High - and honor her memory as a gifted writer, talented artist, and has her father, Larry Pott, called her earlier this week, "the wittiest and funniest kick in the pants you'd ever seen."
The event was organized by Albert Fang, and anyone who comes is asked to wear Audrie's favorite color - teal.
Hundreds turned out for the vigil, including the girl's father
"The emails, the texts the letters, the phone calls, truly amazing. Between all of us, we’ve read them all and it’s propped us up. It has supported us like you have not imagined," Larry Pott said.
Sarah Broughton, a sophomore at Leigh High School in San Jose who considered Audrie a close friend, recalled her as "very witty, beautiful on the inside and outside, creative and spontaneous."
"She loved horseback riding, she loved to sing, although she wouldn't want people to hear her," said Sarah, 15. "She loved music. She loved drawing and sculpting."
"I was devastated when I found out she had passed away," Sarah said.
When she learned of allegations that three boys had sexually assaulted Audrie at a party last September and took a photo or photos during the assault, "I was beyond furious and still am," Broughton said. "I'm awfully mad and angry at them, especially to do it to a friend and you know how sweet she is," Sarah said. "It was really shocking it was those three people."
Two of the boys knew Audrie since middle school and Sarah met and talked to one of them in a chance meeting while walking with Audrie in downtown Saratoga last year, she said. "He was nice in the 10 minutes that I talked to him," she said. "It's like you only know the half of them."
The scene of Friday night's vigil has become a hotbed of contention over Audrie's case.
Audrie's parents, with their attorney, Bob Allard, have filed against a claim against the Los Gatos Saratoga school district, alleging that Audrie had been bullied at school, the school knew about it, and that Principal Paul Robinson either "overlooked or ignored" important evidence when he declared shortly after Audrie's death that her suicide had "absolutely nothing to do" with bullying.
After a Labor Day party on Sept. 2, Audrie had passed out after drinking too much, her parents and authorities said. On April 11, three 16-year-old boys were arrested on charges of sexually assaulting her, and they remain in custody at juvenile hall.
Allard told reporters at a Monday news conference that "at least one photograph" of her was shown to "at least ten" people at school. Audrie felt humiliated, according to Facebook posts her parents later discovered, and ended up hanging herself on Sept. 10. She died two days later.
The school district, in a rare move by educators who typically remain silent on these types of cases, responded this week with a point-by-point rebutall to the Pott family accusations.
The school district essentially said in a four-page statement that they did not know anything about the sexual assault or photos that may have been shared until after Audrie's death.
Audrie's parents have described the teen as a gifted art student, a writer and a musician who played viola and piano. She also was part of a middle school band that played for Barack Obama's inauguration.
Larry Pott teared up and got very emotional during one point of the news conference on Monday in describing his daughter, who used to be "so full of life."
"She was beautiful on the outside," Larry Pott said. "But she was more beautiful on the inside."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:The Audrie Pott Foundation has been set up to provide information about Audrie and efforts to raise money to provide art and music scholarships to Bay Area students.