Landmark Settlement In Wrongful Death Case Of Sexually Assaulted Teen (VIDEO)

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Three boys who sexually assaulted a classmate, then used photos taken at the scene to harass and taunt her until she ended her life, settled a wrongful death suit filed by her parents earlier this month. While the case of Audrie Pott was widely publicized following her suicide, details of the April 2015 settlement haven’t received nearly as much media attention.

Audrie Pott was just 15 years old when she was sexually assaulted by three boys, all age 16. The assault took place at an unsupervised home in California’s Silicon Valley. After removing her clothes and sexually assaulting her, her rapists used a felt pen to write on her naked body. As she lay unconscious, the three males took photos of her, posting them to Facebook, and emailed and texted them to others.

In the days following the assault, at least one photo was spread around Saratoga High School, where Audrie Pott was in her sophomore year. Text messages between the teen and her attackers show the photo was used to harass and humiliate her online.

Just eight days after what Audrie Pott called the worst day of her life, the distraught teenager hung herself.

Her rapists were eventually arrested. For their crimes they spent just two months in a juvenile detention center.

In the settlement of the wrongful death suit, the families of the three assailants are to pay the parents of Audrie Pott $950,000. While the monetary award itself has been the subject of headlines, it’s the non-monetary conditions of the settlement which could have the most impact on US rape culture.

  • The attackers must admit to their crimes, on the record, in front of the judge. They cannot deny the charges made in the criminal complaint or lie about the role they played in Audrie Pott’s death. They can’t continue to blame the victim, say she willingly participated in the assault or otherwise deny their deplorable actions. 
  • All of the rapists must publish an apology in which they acknowledge their guilt. The published apology must also include statements denouncing cyberbullying, and detailing the mental and emotional anguish such actions can have on the targeted person. A similar apology must be made verbally, on the record, in front of the judge. They cannot say it was just a joke. They can’t pretend that they didn’t mean to hurt anyone.
  • All three of Audrie Pott’s attackers must give 10 presentations to high school students, educating them about the impact of cyberbullying, sexting, slut shaming, sharing or soliciting nude photos online and the dangers of alcohol and drug use for students, among other issues. In other words, they must hold themselves out as examples for future students, showing them the kind of people that they most certainly do not want to become.
  • They must also appear in documentaries about sexual assault. This isn’t just about holding them accountable. It’s also about understanding the thought processes that motivated her attackers, educating the public about sexual assault and hopefully preventing the same thing from happening to someone else. 
  • The assailants must also support an effort to have Audrie Pott awarded an honorary diploma from Saratoga High School.Audrie Pott was a precious and valuable human being, whose life was cut short because of the cruel and inhumane actions of her attackers. She deserved to finish high school, to go to college, to have a career and a life that she will never have, because of the actions of the three boys that attacked her. 

After they filed the wrongful death suit in 2013, Audrie Pott’s parents were attacked and maligned by the defense lawyers who represented the teen’s attackers. Yet they continued on, putting up with accusations about their motives and insinuations about the ‘real cause’ of their suicide. The terms of the settlement hammer away at American rape culture, one by one. The conditions put the blame on the attackers, not the victim. They demand justice, in a way that a monetary settlement could not. They send a strong message of accountability to young men and their families, and to our society as a whole.

We need to stop telling your girls what to wear, and start telling young men not to rape.

Here’s more on this story from NBC Dallas-Fort Worth and Bay City News.

Video screen capture via NBC Dallas-Forth Worth


Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info