A man filed a lawsuit Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose declaring that he is the biological father of teen suicide victim Audrie Pott and should be included in a wrongful death lawsuit as a legal heir.
Michael Lazarin, 46, claims that Sheila and Lawrence Pott, the teen girl's legal parents, falsely claimed to be her sole heirs in the suit they lodged a year ago, seven months after Audrie's death by suicide on Sept. 12, 2012.
Audrie was 15 years old when she hanged herself at Sheila Pott's Los Altos home on Sept. 10, 2012, and died at a hospital in Mountain View after being taken off life support two days later.
She had become upset in the aftermath of a Labor Day weekend party with other teens that Sept. 2 at a friend's home in Saratoga. During the party, she passed out inside a bedroom of the friend's house after drinking vodka mixed with Gatorade.
While Audrie was asleep, three male teen classmates of hers from Saratoga High School removed some of her clothes, used a felt pen to draw messages on her body, took photos of her and sexually abused her by digital penetration.
After pleading guilty to sexual assault, two of the boys were sentenced to 30 days in juvenile jail, which they served on weekends, and a third to 45 consecutive days.
The Potts filed suit on April 15, 2013, against the boys' parents for monetary damages. They are asking for damages for defamation, invasion of privacy, false imprisonment, battery, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy.
The Potts are also suing an unnamed teenaged girl who they allege assisted in taking Audrie to the room, watched the boys with Audrie and then lied about it to sheriff's deputies investigating Audrie's death in 2012.
In his lawsuit filed Wednesday, Lazarin attached as exhibits dozens of family photos of himself, Audrie, Sheila Pott and Lazarin family members taken from the late 1990s to early 2000s prior to when he and Sheila broke up in December 2003 after an eight-year relationship.
In other exhibits used to bolster his argument that he is Audrie's biological father, Lazarin included an email sent last Sept. 24 to his former lawyer Gloria Allred by the Potts' San Jose attorney Robert Allard, who described Lazarin as "nothing more than a sperm donor."
He also furnished printouts of posts on Facebook written to him about Audrie by Lawrence Pott's second wife, Lisa Pott, in 2011 before Audrie's death, that Lazarin claims indicates acknowledgement of his paternity.
A hearing on Lazarin's suit by a case management judge in Superior Court in San Jose is set for Aug. 19.
Lazarin said in an interview that he expects his case to be combined with the Potts' lawsuit.
He said his intention in filing suit is not for money but "to bring closure to me and my family."
"The devastating effects have been far reaching and difficult to cope with as I have watched my daughter become a public spectacle because of the criminal actions that took place before her passing, the horrendous defilement of her by (the boys) who did not receive due punishment for what they had done," he said.
Lazarin said that he met Audrie's mother Sheila in 1995 when he said she told him she was separated from Lawrence and was "going through an extensive divorce" from him.
He said he fathered Audrie and after she was born in 1997, he had "an active role" in the girl's life, financial support and upbringing in his San Jose home up to when she was 6.
Following his break up with Sheila in December 2003, Lazarin that month filed a paternity claim to establish himself as Audrie's parent.
He ultimately lost the case in a decision by then-Judge Dolores Carr, who cited a statute that said in order to be legally declared the father, he had to have taken the child into his home and openly held her out as his natural child within two years of her birth.
Lazarin said that he did not know about the two-year statute of limitations to claim paternity and did not declare or file a claim as Audrie's father while he was with Sheila in order to avoid family problems for Sheila.
"I was in a full blown relationship with my daughter and Sheila," he said. "Why would I sue somebody? I knew it was my daughter."
Lazarin said in his suit today that during the paternity case, it was never disputed that he was Audrie's biological father.
In a court filing in 2006, Sheila Pott's lawyer Mary Simpson wrote that the Potts were married in 1992, Lawrence Pott filed for divorce in 2001 but it did not became final until 2004.
Simpson stated that Sheila, while still legally married to Lawrence Pott, had an affair with Lazarin between April and September 1996, prior to Audrie's birth on May 27, 1997.