South Bay News
Vigil planned for Saratoga suicide victim Audrie Pott
SARATOGA, Calif. -- Supporters of 15-year-old Audrie Pott, whose suicide last fall after an alleged sexual assault sparked a lawsuit and controversy for school administrators, are planning a vigil for her Friday night at Saratoga High School where she was once a student.
The 8 p.m. candlelight ceremony on the school campus, at 20300 Herriman Ave. in Saratoga, is being held "to commemorate and honor Audrie," according to the Facebook page of the Audrie Pott Foundation, formed by her family to offer scholarships in the arts and music.
More than 250 people pledged on the Facebook page to attend the vigil.
Audrie, who attempted suicide at her Saratoga home on Sept. 10 and died two days later, has become the center of a bitter dispute pitting her family against administrators of the Los Gatos-Saratoga High School District.
The teen's family has filed suit against three 16-year-old boys from Saratoga High, claiming they sexually assaulted Audrie while she lay unconscious at an alcohol-fueled party Sept. 2, scribbled messages on her body, took photos of her and distributed them to other students.
The three boys were arrested a week ago on suspicion of sexual battery and other charges stemming from the alleged attack, which along with the photos, her family said, humiliated Audrie at school and led to her suicide.
On Thursday, the family and their attorney issued a statement expressing "disgust and dismay" with a four-page statement the school district issued Wednesday denying responsibility for events leading up to Audrie's suicide.
"Even to this day, it is clear to us that the District is more interested in protecting its image than in taking responsibility for its lack of action in Audrie's case," the family said.
The school district's statement claimed the party Audrie went to "was not a school-related incident" and that school principal Paul Robinson never met with her family members to discuss bullying which they said Audrie suffered last spring.
District officials said that an "internal investigation showed that she never reported or sought counseling for bullying before or after the alleged sexual assault."
The district released its statement hours after the Pott family's San Jose attorney Robert Allard announced that the family would take legal steps to file a lawsuit against the district, which oversees Saratoga High.
Allard refuted Thursday the district's insistence that Robinson had permission from Audrie's stepmother, Lisa, to announce to students that Audrie had died when in fact the girl was still clinically alive in a hospital.
"Literally during the difficult time that Audrie was undergoing surgery to have her organs removed for donations, our phones were flooded with messages from students who had heard from Mr. Robinson that Audrie had died," they said.
The family also criticized Robinson's statement to a newspaper soon after Audrie's death that it "had absolutely nothing to do" with bullying when Robinson "was aware of a potential sexual assault on Audrie" and photos may have been shown of her at school. Further, the family stated that it did not matter that the alleged sexual assault took place off campus because the district knew at least one photo of her was shown at school "for the specific purpose to harass and intimidate Audrie while she was attending school related activities."
"For that reason, in our view, the school district was obligated to investigate and take action against these three young men." Saratoga High administrators rebuffed the Pott family's demands "in several meetings" that the three boys be expelled from school.
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