The lawyer for a teen accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl who killed herself in 2012 said this week that the victim’s family was to blame for her suicide.
The parents of Audrie Pott have filed a wrongful death suit against the families of three boys who were accused of sexually assaulting their daughter at a party in 2012. Audrie Pott woke up after a party at a girlfriend’s house to find messages scrawled on her partially naked body. The boys who allegedly sexually assaulted her were also accused of taking photos and showing them to other students on campus.
A week later, the humiliated teen hung herself in her mother’s home.
In court papers filed on Monday, Philip Pereira, the lawyer for one of the accused boys, pointed the finger of blame at Pott’s family, writing that the suicide was “set in motion years before the events alleged.”
Pereira claimed that the factors “culminated immediately before the suicide with an altercation between Audrie Pott and two of her friends who are not named as defendants in this matter.”
The attorney also asserted that Lawrence Pott, who was named as a plaintiff along with mother Sheila Pott, had no standing in the case because he was not Audrie’s biological father.
“It sounds to me that much of what’s being raised is a lot of irrelevant smoke screen to attempt to get away from the main issue of whether or not the people being sued are responsible in any way for the loss of this child,” Golden Gate Law School professor Peter Keane told the San Jose Mercury News.
“It doesn’t matter whether biologically it was his child, even if you can provide by DNA that it is,” Keane explained. “Under California law, a child with parents who were cohabitating at the time, if the father holds himself out to be the father, he is by law that child’s father.”
In a statement, the Potts’ attorney, Robert Allard, said that the parents of the accused should be responsible for their actions.
“It’s no wonder how this all happened,” the statement said. “When you have a coddled child whose parents refuse to hold him responsible for his actions, you will eventually be dealing with a tragedy.”
“What this young man did was indefensible and the fact that these outlandish statements have now been made tell us that the only way that he and his family will learn their lesson is through a jury verdict,” Allard wrote.
A foundation created by the Pott family has spearheaded legislation for harsh penalties against cyberbullying. The next court date in the wrongful death lawsuit is scheduled for Jan. 28 in San Jose.
Watch this video from KRON, broadcast Jan. 7, 2013.