(CBS) - The parents of a 15-year-old California girl who committed suicide last year after allegedly being raped by three friends at a party spoke for the first time Monday. They told the media "there is absolutely no doubt as to the reason she took her life," and called for the teens' case to be escalated to adult court.
Audrie Pott's step-mother, Lisa, read aloud from Facebook messages she said Audrie posted in the days after the alleged attack and leading up to her suicide: "My life is ruined...I am in hell...The whole school knows...My life is over..."
Three teen boys were arrested last week and charged with sexual battery,dissemination of child pornography and possession of child pornography for allegedly assaulting Pott at a co-ed sleepover party last fall and distributing a photograph of the incident. According to the Associated Press, these less severe charges are filed if a victim was unconscious and did not have the ability to fight off a sexual assault.According to the family, Pott was passed out from drinking too much during the alleged assault and only learned of it when she saw the photo, which had apparently been spread electronically among some of her peers.
Lisa Pott told gathered reporters that the family had been advised not to view the photo.
Audrie's mother, Sheila Pott, announced that she planned to push for new legislation, dubbed "Audrie's Law," that would address the less severe penalties for assault on an intoxicated person, as well as the make it easier to try what she called "an adult crime" in adult court.
Pott committed suicide eight days after the alleged attack. Her death, along with the April 7 death of Canadian teen, who also hung herself after allegedly being sexually assaulted and then cyber-bullied, and the rape case have drawn national attention to the issue of teen sexual assault and social media.
Robert Allard, the attorney representing the family, announced they planned to a wrongful death lawsuit against the three teens, who Pott's father, Larry, said had a "long and sordid reputation." Allard said the suit will also name the parents who owned the home where the unsupervised overnight party took place.
Larry Pott said that when the family decided to come forward with his daughter's name and story, they did it because "we hoped that in some small way Audrie's story and death could help others. Help this epidemic of sexual assault, distributing photos and cyber-bullying to stop."
The family took aim at a recent statement issued by the attorneys for the three teens charged with Audrie's assault, which decried "the attempt to link (Audrie's) suicide to the specific actions of these three boys."
Larry Pott responded by saying,"With no assault and no cyber-bullying, Audrie's in art class right now."The Pott's and Allard implored parents and students with information about the night of the alleged assault 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.