SAN JOSE, Calif. - Authorities arrested three 16-year-old boys Thursday on charges that they sexually assaulted a 15-year-old who killed herself eight days after the attack. A family attorney said Audrie Pott was humiliated by online photos of the assault and posted on Facebook that her life was ruined, "worst day ever," and hanged herself.
"The family has been trying to understand why their loving daughter would have taken her life at such a young age and to make sure that those responsible would be held accountable," said family attorney Robert Allard.
"After an extensive investigation that we have conducted on behalf of the family, there is no doubt in our minds that the victim, then only 15 years old, was savagely assaulted by her fellow high school students while she lay on a bed completely unconscious," said Allen.
Allard said students used cell phones to share photos of the attack, and that the images went viral. The news of the boys' arrest comes just days after another teen, Canadian Rehtaeh Parsons, committed suicide following what her mother says was bullying after four teen boys allegedly raped her and posted photos of the attack online.
Police arrested the boys on charges of sexual battery, seven months after the girl's suicide. The names of the suspects were not released because they are minors.
The Associated Press does not, as a rule, identify victims of sexual assault. But in this case, Pott's family wanted her name and case known, Allard said. The family also provided a photo to the AP.
Audrie's family requested privacy until a planned news conference Tuesday. Her father and step-mother Lawrence and Lisa Pott, along with her mother Sheila Pott, have started the Audrie Pott Foundation to provide music and art scholarships and offer youth counseling and support.
The foundation website alludes to the teen's struggles, but until now neither law enforcement, school officials nor Audrie's family have discussed the sexual battery.
"She was compassionate about life, her friends, her family, and would never do anything to harm anyone," the site said. "She was in the process of developing the ability to cope with the cruelty of this world but had not quite figured it all out.
"Ultimately, she had not yet acquired the antibiotics to deal with the challenges present for teens in today's society."
On the day Pott died, Saratoga High School principal Paul Robinson announced her death, stunning classmates. Two days later other students and staff wore teal, her favorite color, in her honor.
Santa Clara County Sheriff's Lt. Jose Cardoza said two of the teen suspects were arrested at Saratoga High School and the third, a former Saratoga High student, at Christopher High School in Gilroy on Thursday.
Cardoza said the suspects were booked into juvenile hall and face two felonies and one misdemeanor each, all related to sexual battery that allegedly occurred at a Saratoga house party.
The lieutenant said the arrests were the result of information gathered by his agency's Saratoga High School resource officers. He said the investigation is ongoing, and Los Gatos police also continue looking into the girl's September 2012 suicide.