The family of Audrie Pott, the 15-year-old girl who killed herself after learning she was allegedly raped by schoolmates at a party in September, has directed its lawyer to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the three 16-year-old boys accused of assaulting her.
"We intend to prove in a court of law that her death was related to what they did," attorney Bob Allard told Yahoo! News on Sunday.
Allard said the decision was precipitated by comments made by the defendants' lawyers over the weekend, in which they said the boys should be "regarded as innocent." They further advised the public to reserve judgment about the case.
"Much of what has been reported over the last several days is inaccurate," said the suspects' three attorneys, Eric S. Geffon, Alan M. Lagod and Benjamin W. Williams, in a statement reported by the Los Angeles Times. "Most disturbing is the attempt to link [Audrie's] suicide to the specific actions of these three boys."
Allard said the Pott family was deeply distressed over that statement, and that it "sent them over the edge." He accused the opposing lawyers of using a so-called "blame the dead victim defense."
Police say Pott was assaulted at a party by schoolmates at a house near San Jose, Calif. while she was passed out. Eight days later, Allard says Pott learned photos had been taken of the alleged assault, and shared on social media. "Worst day ever," Pott wrote on her Facebook page. She then hanged herself.
"There's no doubt that the combination of the assault and the torture by cyberbullying caused Audrie to end her life," Allard told Yahoo! News Friday.
The names of the suspects, who were arrested at their schools on Thursday and charged with sexual battery, were not released because they are minors. Yahoo! News does not normally release the name of alleged sexual assault victims, but the Pott family wanted Audrie's name known.
Allard said he will file the complaint Monday. The family is also planning a news conference at Allard's office on Monday, one day sooner than originally planned.