Family members of a 15-year-old girl, who killed herself in Los Altos last fall after a photo was circulated online of an alleged sexual battery on her, today accused three assault suspects of attempting to destroy evidence in the case. Members of Audrie Pott’s family posted a message today on a Facebook page honoring the girl, saying that the male teens who allegedly attacked her in early September 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,” the family wrote. “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,” they wrote. The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the case, could not be immediately reached for comment on the accusations. Meanwhile, Bob Mistele, superintendent of the Los Gatos-Saratoga School District, which includes Saratoga High School where Audrie was a sophomore, issued a statement today about her death.
“Our sympathies go out to all of the families affected by this tragic situation,” Mistele said. “We are cooperating with law enforcement as they continue to look into the details of this case.” Mistele said, “Collaborating with our parents, students, staff and community we will continue to work diligently to maintain a positive climate at our high schools based on respect, responsibility, and open communication that discourages cyber bullying and inappropriate conduct.” The 16-year-old male suspects were arrested during school Thursday morning in connection with the alleged sexual assault on Audrie at a home in Saratoga last September, Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman Deputy Kurtis Stenderup said.
Two were removed from Saratoga High School and another from Christopher High School in Gilroy, Stenderup said. They were arrested on suspicion of two counts of felony sexual battery and a misdemeanor related to the alleged assault and booked into Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall. Robert Allard, an attorney hired by the Pott family, claimed that the girl was sexually assaulted multiple times by the suspects as she lay unconscious after drinking alcohol served at a party at the house of a friend whose parents were vacationing in Napa Valley. The party at the Saratoga home was attended by eight to 10 high school students who, along with Audrie, consumed hard liquor mixed with Gatorade, Allard said.
During the assaults, while Audrie was passed out and unclothed, someone took at least one cellphone photo, showed it to others and then it was distributed by text, email and posted on Facebook before it was removed, Allard said. Audrie, humiliated after finding out about the picture, wrote despairingly about it on her Facebook page and killed herself in Los Altos on Sept. 12, eight days after the alleged assault, Allard said. The story of what happened to Audrie and the arrests of the three boys eight months after her death has spread worldwide in the media.
Allard compared it to a similar case in Steubenville, Ohio, where photos were circulated of an unconscious girl who was sexually assaulted by high school boys during a party. Two boys were convicted last month of rape in that case. He said Audrie’s parents want the juvenile suspects tried in court as adults and are seeking to sue about 10 people, including high school students and some parents, in connection with the assault.
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