Justice for Audrie Pott and Her Family
Audrie Pott was just 15 years old when she was sexually assaulted. She was then photographed and humiliated at school by her assailants. Audrie Pott took her life eight days later. After waiting seven months for law enforcement to charge the assailants, the parents of Audrie Pott turned to attorney Robert Allard. Mr. Allard filed a civil lawsuit against the assailants and their families.
The civil lawsuit and the publicity surrounding Audrie’s sexual assault and suicide led to two significant changes in the law and a public apology from the assailants. The San Jose Mercury News reported that the civil case did a “service to the broader public” by “reminding us of the courts’ ability to bring clarity to societal issues—and the value of individuals who take grievances public in ways that help shift the course of history toward a truer justice.”
Audrie’s Law Introduced
Senate Bill 838, also known as Audrie’s Law, was introduced by Senator Jim Beall. It was supported by District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
Audrie’s Law gives judges the option to allow the public to view proceedings of juveniles being prosecuted on sexual assault charges involving victims who were unconscious or developmentally disabled. It also requires that minors convicted of sexual assault on an unconscious or developmentally disabled victim must complete sex offender treatment programs available in their county of residence.
Assembly Bill 256 was authored by Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia. It authorizes superintendents and school principals to discipline students who engage in cyber-bullying (harassment by electronic means on- or off-campus). But in Audrie’s case, there was a loophole in the law. Since the sexual assault occurred off-campus, the authorities could not punish her assailants.