D.A.: Bullying of Teen Was "Intolerable"

Last Updated 10:44 a.m. ET

Two and a half months after a 15-year-old Irish girl living in Massachusetts killed herself because of what prosecutors are calling "relentless" bullying, nine teenagers have now been charged in connection with her death.

CBS News correspondent Whit Johnson reports the teenagers - two males, seven females, three of whom are juveniles - are facing a range of charges, from statutory rape,; violation of civil rights with bodily injury, criminal harassment and stalking.

Prosecutors are also talking more about the intensity of the torment Phoebe Prince endured in the days leading up to her suicide.

Bullied and harassed almost from her first day at South Hadley High School, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince hanged herself in her family's home in January.

Investigators believe that the bullying started after Prince was ostracized following a brief relationship with a well-known boy at school. The abuse quickly moved from the schoolyard to cyberspace, where Prince was sent hurtful text messages and harassed on Facebook.

Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, who announced the charges Monday, said the events before Phoebe's death on Jan. 14 were "the culmination of a nearly three-month campaign of verbally assaultive behavior and threats of physical harm" that was widely known among the student body.

On the day she died, Prince had been bullied in the library, threatened in school hallways, and had a drink thrown at her while she walked home.

"The investigation revealed relentless activity directed toward Phoebe designed to humiliate her and to make it impossible for her to remain at school," said Scheibel. "The bullying for her became intolerable."

On CBS' "The Early Show" educator Barbara Coloroso said bullying should not be written off as "just part of growing up."

"It's about utter contempt for another human being," she said. "And it's so important that we stop that in its tracks."

Price's suicide drew outrage from parents, who said school officials should have done more.

"They knew that there was a problem and they just ignored it. That's telling me that they're not doing their jobs," said parent Wendy Moran.

On Monday prosecutors said some faculty and administrators will not be charged, even though authorities say they knew about the bullying and that Phoebe's mother brought her concerns to at least two of them. Prosecutors say although the school was aware of the bullying, failure to act prior to Prince's death did not amount to criminal behavior.

The nine people charged are expected to appear in court in the coming weeks. School officials released a statement saying they will not comment until they meet with the district attorney.

Scheibel said the case is still under investigation and that one other person could be charged. It wasn't immediately known Monday whether the teens who have been charged have attorneys.

Scheibel said the harassment began in September, occurring primarily in school and in person, although some of it surfaced on Facebook and in other electronic forms. At least four students and two faculty members intervened to try to stop it or report it to administrators, she said.

Schiebel refused to discuss the circumstances of the rape charges.

No school officials are being charged because they had "a lack of understanding of harassment associated with teen dating relationships," and the school's code of conduct was interpreted and enforced in an "inconsistent" way, Scheibel said.

"Nevertheless, the actions - or inactions - of some adults at the school are troublesome," she said.

Luke Gelinas, whose two sons attend South Hadley High School, said one son who was in Phoebe's French class was "deeply saddened and hurt" upon hearing of the girl's death.

On CBS' "The Early Show" this morning. Galinas said news of the arrests has brought a mixture of feelings:

"I think we're all relieved and saddened at the same time," said Galinas. "Relieved, of course, for Phoebe's family and relieved that this didn't get swept under the rug like a lot had anticipated.

"And also saddened for the families, saddened for our loss of Phoebe, and saddened, also, for the parents of the children whose names have been published with the charges next to them. This has not been easy on the community and it's not easy on those parents this morning. And my heart goes out to them, as well."

Galinas has called for the resignation of the school's principal and the superintendent. "Well, from the start . . . it's been the constant message of blaming the victim and shoot the messenger. We've tried to bring accountability, that's been our message right from the beginning. The girls involved in this, sure, they were wrong. But they're kids. These are grown men that are paid to do a job."

A message seeking comment was left Monday for South Hadley Schools Superintendent Gus A. Sayer.

Phoebe was born in Bedford, England and moved to County Clare, Ireland, when she was 2. She moved last summer to South Hadley, home to Mount Holyoke College, because the family had relatives there.

Her family has since moved away and could not immediately be located for comment. Scheibel spoke for them at a news conference to announce the charges.

"The Prince family has asked that the public refrain from vigilantism in favor of allowing the judicial system an opportunity to provide a measure of justice for Phoebe," she said.

Some students accused of participating in the bullying have been disciplined by the school and will not be returning to classes.

The Massachusetts Legislature cited Prince's death and the apparent suicide of 11-year-old Carl Walker-Hoover of Springfield last year when members passed anti-bullying legislation earlier this month.

South Hadley is among several college towns in western Massachusetts that pride themselves on their urbane cultural offerings, good schools and safe streets. After Phoebe's death, the community formed an anti-bullying task force that drew more than 400 people to its first meeting in February.

Robert Judge, a South Hadley selectman and task force member, said hundreds of people have become involved in hope that something good comes from the incident.

"Like most towns, we like to think of ourselves as a good place to live, and then this happens and your reputation is sullied nationally and even internationally, and people look at you differently, and they make assumptions," Judge said.

Scheibel said the teens will be issued summonses to appear in court on yet-undetermined dates. The teens who face criminal charges under the indictments announced Monday are:

Sean Mulveyhill, 17, of South Hadley. Charged with statutory rape, violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly. A woman who answered the phone at his home Monday would not identify herself and told The Associated Press, "You don't know the full story."

Kayla Narey, 17, of South Hadley. Charged with violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly. A message left at a number listed to a Narey family was not immediately returned; another line was out of service.

Austin Renaud, 18, of Springfield. Charged with statutory rape. A telephone number could not immediately be found.

Ashley Longe, 16, of South Hadley. Charged as a youthful offender with violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury. A telephone number could not immediately be found.

Sharon Chanon Velazquez, 16, of South Hadley. Charged as a youthful offender with stalking and violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury. There was no telephone listing.

Flannery Mullins, 16, of South Hadley. Charged as a youthful offender with stalking and violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury. A message left at a Mullins home was not immediately returned.

Three 16-year-old South Hadley girls, whose names were not released, face delinquency charges that include the civil rights offense, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly.
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