SANTA CLARA (KCBS)– The attorney for three teenagers accused of sexually assaulting a Saratoga girl claims her parents are partly responsible for her suicide in response to a wrongful death lawsuit.
15-year-old Audrie Pott, a Saratoga High School sophomore, hanged herself eight days after a party where she drank alcohol and passed out – later waking up and realizing she had been sexually assaulted. The attackers had scribbled obscene messages on intimate parts of her body and later at least one photo of the assault was widely disseminated by cellphone among her high school classmates and posted on Facebook.
Attorney Philip Pereira wrote in a court filing that parents Larry and Shelia Pott should have known of her “longstanding and serious emotional problems and that they should have sought professional help.”
It’s part of legal defense in response to the wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the Pott family but Steven Clark, a legal analyst and former Santa Clara prosecutor, told KCBS the tactic could be seen by the jury as blaming the victim.
“The fact that Audrie was in a fragile mental state makes her much vulnerable to this type of bullying and that, in and of it self, is not going to be a defense,” Clark said. “The factor is whether or not these boys substantially contributed to her death.”
Clark said that while he’s not surprised that the defense is using this tactic as an early response, it could “backfire.”
Pereira, in the response, also claims that Pott’s suicide was related to an altercation she had with two of her friends, who are not named as defendants in the lawsuit.
It in previous court records, there were claims that Pott’s friends cut off their friendship because of changes in her personality and charges that she had been drinking too much.
Pott’s parents have not responded to the latest court filings.