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Audrie Pott's family files claim over school's 'bullying' response

SAN FRANCISCO -- The family of a Saratoga High School student who killed herself after allegedly being sexually assaulted at a party has filed a claim against the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District over the way school officials handled events surrounding the teen's death.

Robert Allard, an attorney for the sophomore's family, said school administrators "were negligent in addressing the bullying Audrie Pott encountered" at school. By filing the claim Tuesday, the family kept open the option of future legal action against the district.

District officials could not be reached for comment.

On Labor Day weekend, Audrie went to a small party at the Saratoga home of a friend whose parents were out of town. After drinking a combination of alcohol and Gatorade, the 15-year-old passed out.

She woke up, Allard said during an emotional news conference Monday, and found a "nightmare."

Her clothes were partially off, he said. Her body was scrawled with pen markings, Allard said, including the name of a 16-year-old classmate, followed by the words "was here."

Three 16-year-olds who had been Audrie's friends since middle school are suspected by authorities of taking at least one cellphone photo of the sophomore while she was unconscious and later showing it to 10 or more classmates. A week after the incident, Audrie killed herself.

Last week, the three youths were arrested on charges of misdemeanor sexual battery, felony distribution of child pornography and felony forcible sexual penetration. They appeared in juvenile court in San Jose on Tuesday.

They were Saratoga High School students at the time of the alleged attack. One has since transferred. Because they are juveniles, their names have not been released.

Lisa Pott, Audrie's stepmother, said during the Monday news conference that the family "had no idea what happened to Audrie until after her memorial service."

But after talking with her friends, checking her Facebook account and looking at her cellphone, a picture began to emerge.

"We were able to find statements made by Audrie herself in the last week of her life that draws a direct connection between her death and what the three young men did to her," Lisa Pott said.

On Monday, the Pott family filed a wrongful death suit against the three teens and the owners of the home where the party occurred.

In a written statement regarding the claim filed against the school district, Allard charged that administrators announced Audrie's death over loud speakers to the student body "before the family realized that she passed away."

School officials also determined, Allard said, "shortly after Audrie's passing that, despite compelling evidence to the contrary, bullying played no role in this tragedy." And they did not expel the three teens.


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