The family of a Northern California teenager who committed suicide after three high school students sexually assaulted her has reached a settlement with one of the attackers, their attorney said Monday.
The family of Audrie Pott, the 15-year-old Saratoga girl who hanged herself after she learned that cellphone photos of the 2012 assault had been shared among friends and other high school students, chose to settle because the assailant admitted that she was unconscious during the attack and did not consent to their actions.
“He admits the truth, which is that she was blacked out, passed out, unconscious,” said Robert Allard, an attorney for Pott’s family. “The other part of it is that our investigation has determined that he had no involvement whatsoever in the subsequent shaming, or humiliation or false rumor spreading about Audrie.”
Pott had been drinking at a Labor Day weekend party in Saratoga, an affluent Silicon Valley suburb about 50 miles southeast of San Francisco, when the assault occurred. The attackers took cellphone photos of the incident, which quickly spread in their social circles and Saratoga High School’s students, police and family members have said.
Pott, who killed herself days after the assault, made clear in Facebook messages that the photos drove her to commit suicide. Her stepmother, Lisa Pott, read some of those messages during a news conference after the attack.
“My life is ruined and I don’t even remember how,” Pott wrote. “I have a reputation for a night I don’t even remember and the whole school knows.”
The assailants, whose identities have been withheld because they were juveniles at the time of the attack, all pleaded guilty to sexual assault in 2013. Because they were minors, they were sentenced to 30 to 45 days in prison, a sentence many considered light given the national outrage sparked by the attack.
Pott’s family pushed for state legislators to toughen criminal penalties against juvenile sex offenders, and Gov. Jerry Brown signed “Audrie’s Law” in September 2014. The law mandates that juveniles charged with sex crimes must pay for and attend a sex offender treatment program upon release from incarceration. It also allows normally secret juvenile court proceedings to be made public in cases involving assaults of incapacitated victims.
Though all three teens admitted to the assault, two of them have continued to argue that Pott was awake and consented, Allard said. Two of the assailants are set to graduate from Saratoga High this June, Allard said. He said the third attacker transferred to a neighboring high school.
Allard said the other two attackers have continued to harass the Pott family.
“They’re holding nothing back when it comes to blaming the victim, blaming the stepmom and blaming the dad,” he said.
Pott’s parents did not speak to the assailant with whom they reached a settlement, and they still struggle to even discuss what happened to their daughter, Allard said.
“It’s still very raw, especially with the mother,” he said. “This was the only child for the mother, and it’s so very hard for her to even speak about memories of Audrie.”
Allard said a confidentiality agreement prevented him from discussing the details of the settlement. Jury selection in the civil suit against the other two assailants is set to begin March 30.
Times staff writer Christine Mai-Duc contributed to this report.
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