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Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Parents Sue Boys|for Daughter’s Suicide

SAN JOSE (CN) - A teenage girl killed herself after three boys sexually abused her while she was unconscious and passed around a photo of it at school, the girl's parents claim in court.

Sheila and Lawrence Pott claim the sexual abuse and subsequent vile behavior made their 15-year-old daughter Audrie feel that "her only escape from the torment was through her death."

The Potts sued the three boys, identified at John B., John R., and John G., and their parents in Santa Clara County Court. They also sued Michael and Sheila Penuen, who allegedly own the house where the abuse happened.

"Audrie Pott was a beautiful, vibrant young girl of 15 years. She was subjected to atrocities committed by her classmates, and then subjected to humiliation and shame through bullying on her high school campus," her parents say in the complaint.

They claim the Penuens' minor daughter invited Audrie to spend Labor Day weekend last year at her house. Then the Penuens left town, believing their daughter would be staying at Audrie's home, without verifying it with Audrie's parents, according to the complaint.

The Potts claim the Penuens "knew or reasonably should have known that their daughter would host a party over the holiday weekend. Said defendants left their daughter and her guests full and unfettered access to alcoholic beverages maintained in an unlocked cabinet.

Audrie passed out, drunk, at the party on Sept. 2, 2012, her parents say.

"The next morning, September 3, 2012, Audrie awoke to discover that her shorts were off of her and that she had writings or drawings on her body, including near her intimate parts," the complaint states.

"In the week following the party, Audrie discovered that defendants John B., John R., and/or John G. had taken photographs of her while she was intoxicated and/or unconscious depicting her and/or the drawing and/or writing on her body. The photographs were taken on defendant John R.'s phone.

"In the week following the party, defendants John B., John R., and/or John G. publicized one or more photographs to other students at Saratoga High School in person and/or via electronic means, including but not limited to text messages."

The three boys also told classmates that they had done to Audrie, her parents say.

"Suffering acute embarrassment, shame, humiliation, etc. arising out of the incidents occurring at the party, the sharing of the photographs, the sharing of details of the incidents occurring at the party, and/or bullying, Audrie took action to end her own life on Monday, September 10, 2012, necessitating hospitalization. Audrie died on September 12, 2012," her parents say.

The three boys were arrested and each is charged with two felonies and misdemeanor sexual battery, the parents say.

From the boys, they demand damages for negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, invasion of privacy, false imprisonment, battery, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy.

They seek damages from the Penuens for negligence.

They are represented by B. Robert Allard with Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard.

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