The heartbroken mother of bullied teen Phoebe Prince ended her silence today as two of her late daughter's tormentors were sentenced in a Massachusetts courtroom. Anne O'Brien, Phoebe Prince's mother, broke down as she read a victim impact statement in front of Judge Jeffrey Kinder.
"Never again will she ask me to read a short story ... or poem she has written," said O'Brien. "Phoebe was a beautiful, intelligent and gregarious daughter with a kind heart able to show compassion for others."
Sean Mulveyhill, 18, and Kayla Narey, 18, both pleaded guilty to criminal harassment in Hampshire Superior Court and were sentenced to a year's probation and community service.
Phoebe Prince moved with her family from Ireland to South Hadley, Mass., in 2009. She entered South Hadley High School and began a brief relationship with Mulveyhill. The relationship apparently angered Mulveyhill's former girlfriend, Kayla Narey, and even though Prince and Mulveyhill eventually stopped dating Narey and her friends continued to bully and harass Prince in person and online. Prince hanged herself in January 2010.
Anne O'Brien addressed both of her daughter's former classmates in open court today. O'Brien spoke first about Sean Mulveyhill, her daughter's former boyfriend.
"Had I known the truth I would have viewed his interest in my daughter as predatory. ... Where was his empathy?" asked O'Brien.
O'Brien also read from one of her daughter's final anguished text messages. "I think Sean condoning this is one of the final nails in my coffin," read O'Brien.
Mulveyhill did not speak in court today.
O'Brien also spoke about Kayla Narey's role as one of her daughter's bulliers. "Kayla has an opportunity to be a true leader ... and end Phoebe's torment. ... Kayla Narey is not capable of compassion."
In court today Narey seemed genuinely contrite as she apologized for her behavior and cried as she read a prepared statement.
"I am ashamed of myself," said Narey. "I'm sorry for all the unkind things I said about you." Narey also referred to an apology she received from Prince in December 2009. "It was my hurt, anger and jealousy that caused my attitude to change after Christmas vacation. That was when I had the chance to be the person I was raised to be. I failed," said Narey.
In a written statement, First District Attorney Steven Gagne said the plea deals were reached after a "thorough consultation with the family, and have their approval and support." Gagne added that jail time for the defendants was not as important to the Prince family as hearing a public apology. "By admitting that they engaged in criminal harassment toward Phoebe Prince, these two defendants have publicly accepted responsibility for their actions, and have been held accountable," said Gagne.
Prosecutors also said they hoped the guilty pleas would send a powerful message to other students that "bullying and harassment will not be tolerated in our schools, and when it rises to the level of criminal conducts, as it did in these two cases, those responsible will be prosecuted."
Three other teens accused of bullying Phoebe Prince, Ashley Longe, Flannery Mullins and Sharon Velazquez, are expected to also plead guilty Thursday in juvenile court.
A sixth student, Austin Renaud, has a pretrial conference scheduled for July.