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Trial to seek role of online bullying in teen girl's suicide
Article by: MSN
April 01, 2015
Views: 5,074,814

A 15-year-old girl hanged herself a week after three classmates photographed themselves sexually assaulting her at a 2012 party, petrified the boys would circulate the photos online and believing gossip about her was spreading widely.

Audrie Pott's story has captivated those concerned with teen bullying, which appears to be on the rise with the help of smartphones and social media but rarely ends in suicide.

A wrongful death trial this month in San Jose will determine whether bullying played a role in the girl's suicide. Lawyers are scheduled to argue Wednesday over what evidence the jury will hear, while opening statements are expected to start next week.

The three boys, now high school seniors, and other teens are expected to deliver uncomfortable and emotional testimony about the party where Audrie was sexually assaulted after passing out drunk and other events leading up to her death. They will describe life in an affluent suburb of privilege, divorce and their attachment to smartphones and social media.

Parry Aftab, a digital privacy lawyer, said Audrie's suicide likely will be discussed at an international anti-bullying conference in Ireland in May that she's helping organize.

"Depending on what the jury decides, the kids will look at this and see there may be consequences," Aftab said.

Audrie's parents say the assault and fear of online ridicule caused her suicide, and they have pursued a wrongful death lawsuit against the boys, their families and others for three years that will culminate with the three-week trial.

Her parents say they want to hold the boys responsible and call attention to bullying, social media shaming and teen suicide. One of the three teens told attorneys that in the weeks before Audrie's suicide, the trio swapped racy selfies of girls they badgered into taking the photos.

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