Phoebe Prince Bullying Case: 3 Plead Not Guilty

Phoebe Prince and Sean Mulveyhill
Three Massachusetts teenagers pleaded not guilty through their lawyers Tuesday in the bullying of a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after what prosecutors call months of threats and harassment.

The teens were not required to appear at the hearing in Hampshire Superior Court.

Sean Mulveyhill and Kayla Narey, both 17 and from South Hadley, and 18-year-old Austin Renaud, of Springfield, will remain free on personal recognizance on the condition that they stay away from the family of Phoebe Prince, the girl who died.

Mulveyhill and Renaud are charged with statutory rape. Mulveyhill and Narey are also charged with violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly.

They are among six teens charged in what prosecutors said was the "unrelenting" bullying of Prince, who hanged herself Jan. 14. Prince, who had emigrated from Ireland last summer, was a freshman at South Hadley High School.

Authorities said she was harassed and bullied after having a brief relationship with a popular boy. They have not identified the boy, but friends said it was Mulveyhill, who was a star football player at South Hadley High School.

Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, who announced the charges March 29, 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."

Renaud's lawyer, Terrence Dunphy, would not comment on the relationship between Prince and Renaud or the statutory rape charge against him. He said lawyers have not received any information yet from prosecutors on what evidence they have.

"I can't get into the defense when I don't know what the evidence is," Dunphy said after the hearing.

A pretrial hearing for Mulveyhill, Narey and Renaud was scheduled for Sept. 15.

Three other teens - Ashley Longe, Flannery Mullins and Sharon Chanon Velazquez - are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Franklin-Hampshire Juvenile Court in Hadley.

Prosecutors said last month that faculty and administrators will not be charged, even though authorities say some of them 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.

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