The parents of Audrie Pott, the California teen who hanged herself days after an alleged sexual assault, implored any students who might have seen a photo of the incident to come forward.
"The student newspaper reported that 10 kids had seen the photo; we'd like to talk to those 10 kids," said Larry Pott, Audrie's father.
Pott's parents and stepmother spoke publicly for the first time today since their 15-year-old daughter hanged herself last September and asked that the three alleged perpetrators, who they said were sober and had known their daughter since middle school, be tried in adult court.
The three teenagers, who are not being identified due to their age, were arrested last week on suspicion of sexual battery for allegedly assaulting Pott at a Labor Day party after she was intoxicated and unconscious.
The family said it would file a lawsuit today in Santa Clara County Superior Court against the three teenagers and the owners of the home where the alleged assault occurred.
Robert Allard, an attorney for the Pott family, said the lawsuit was prompted after attorneys representing the three teenagers released a statement saying there had been "inaccurate" reporting on the case.
"Much of what has been reported over the last several days has been inaccurate. Most disturbing is the attempt to link Audrie's suicide to the specific actions of these three boys," the statement said.
Larry Pott called the statement "heinous" and disgusting."
"Who would say that? It's obvious that is the only connection," he said. "These boys, these young men have a history. They've showed no remorse. What they did was disgusting."
Pott's stepmother, Lisa, read aloud from Facebook messages Audrie sent to friends in the days before her death, describing the torment she felt after a photo allegedly circulated of her unconscious during the assault.
"I can't do anything to fix it. I just want this to go away. The whole school knows," she wrote. "My life is ruined and I don't even remember how."
Pott said her stepdaughter had even named two of her alleged perpetrators in the messages, while keeping the torment she felt from her family members.
"We had no idea what happened to Audrie until after her memorial service. Once we found out, the three of us [Audrie's parents and stepmother] started to investigate ourselves," stepmother Lisa Pott said.
After Audrie's suicide and details of the alleged assault came to light, Lisa Pott said she and Audrie's parents met with school officials, who agreed to kick the teenagers off the football team, but were unable to expel them since the alleged assault did not happen at a school-related function.
Bob Mistele, superintendent of Saratoga Union High School District, said in a statement the school was cooperating with the law enforcement investigation.
"Collaborating with our parents, students, staff and community, we will continue to work diligently to maintain a positive climate at our high schools based on respect, responsibility, and open communication that discourages cyber bullying and inappropriate conduct," Mistele said.
Allard, the Pott family attorney, declined to say what liability, if any, he thought the school could face.
Audrie's family said it was important for them to come forward to shed light on cyber bullying and laws in California that allow the alleged perpetrators to be tried as teens.
"My daughter's attackers may never have to serve time, may never have to register as sex offenders ... there would never be any future impact on these boys' lives," Audrie's mother Sheila Pott said.
The family has started the Audrie Pott Foundation and said they hope the story of what happened to their daughter can be used for legal reform and to help educate teenagers.
"While the world was a far better place when Audrie was alive," Larry Pott said, "it would be a far safer place if these young men were put behind bars."