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Arrest of 3 teens in assault, suicide opens raw wounds | News

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Arrest of 3 teens in assault, suicide opens raw wounds
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(USA TODAY) -- The arrest of three 16-year-old California boys on charges of sexually assaulting an intoxicated, unconscious teen has reopened raw wounds for the family of the 15-year-old who hanged herself eight months ago after photos of the incident spread on the Internet.

Audrie Pott, an accomplished musician and high school athlete at Saratoga High School, killed herself on Sept. 10, eight days after the alleged assault at a weekend party. She had posted on Facebook that the incident was "the worst day of her life."

Santa Clara County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Jose Cardoza says the boys were booked as juveniles on two felony and one misdemeanor counts Thursday based on information from school resource officers at the high school in Saratoga, Calif.

The names of the suspects were not released because they are minors, but Robert Allard, attorney for Audrie's parents, says they hope the teens won't be treated as juveniles at trial, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

"The family has been trying to understand why their loving daughter would have taken her life at such a young age and to make sure that those responsible would be held accountable," Allard says.

"After an extensive investigation that we have conducted on behalf of the family, there is no doubt in our minds that the victim, then only 15 years old, was savagely assaulted by her fellow high school students while she lay on a bed completely unconscious."

The attorney said students used cell phones to share photos of the attack, and that the images went viral.

He alleges that at least three high school boys assaulted Audrie in the bedroom at the home of a friend whose parents were away for the weekend, patch.com reported.

USA TODAY and the Associated Press do not, as a rule, identify victims of sexual assault. But in this case, Pott's family wanted her name and case known, Allard says. The family also provided a photo to the AP.

Her father and step-mother Lawrence and Lisa Pott, along with her mother Sheila Pott, set up the Audrie Pott Foundation to provide music and art scholarships and to offer youth counseling and support.

The foundation website alludes to the teen's struggles, but until now neither law enforcement, school officials nor family have discussed the sexual battery.

"She was compassionate about life, her friends, her family, and would never do anything to harm anyone," the site says. "She was in the process of developing the ability to cope with the cruelty of this world but had not quite figured it all out.

"Ultimately, she had not yet acquired the antibiotics to deal with the challenges present for teens in today's society."

Allard says the parents want their daughter's case to become a model for a law bearing her name, the Mercury News reports.

"Audrie's Law would address some of the things that happened here," he says. "There are two common elements here that are being repeated across the country -- sexual assault by an adolescent and the cyberbullying that follows."

In Steubenville, Ohio, two teenager football players were convicted last month of raping a drunk and unconscious 16-year-old girl whose naked photos were later circulated on the Internet.

In Canada, 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons of Halifax, Nova Scotia, died Sunday after hanging herself last week.

Her mother, Leah Parsons, says a boy had taken a photo of Rehtaeh during an alleged sexual assault incident in November, 2011, and posted it online.

She hanged her self after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ruled last week that an 18-month investigation provided no grounds to charge four teens over allegations they raped the then 15-year-old Rehtaeh.

Her father, Glen Canning, said in a Facebook posting that his daughter "wasn't bullied to death, she was disappointed to death. Disappointed in people she thought she could trust, her school, and the police."

Nova Scotia's justice minister said Thursday he has ordered an investigation into how the RCMP handled the initial allegations against the teenagers, according to the Canadian Press.

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