Fourth defendant added to Audrie Pott wrongful death lawsuit

Audrie's mom, Sheila Potts (second from left), her stepmother Lisa (third from left) and father Larry (fourth from left) held a press conference today in San Jose.

A fourth defendant – a female minor accused of being in the room where another teenage girl was sexually violated by three classmates – has been added to the Audrie Pott wrongful death civil lawsuit, which already includes a current Christopher High School student.
Pott, a Saratoga High School student, committed suicide Sept. 10, 2012 just eight days after the alleged assault.
The wrongful death suit was first submitted April 15 by Robert Allard, attorney for Pott’s parents.
It charges the guardians of the four defendants since they are minors, as well as Michael and Sheila Penuen – the owners of the house where the alleged attack took place.
Allard said he wished he could share more details in addition to the forthcoming Aug. 13 civil court hearing for a case management conference. He is “convinced” the accused female teenager was “intimately involved” during the alleged sexual assault and subsequent cover-up by the accused.
The other accused are three male 16-year-old students – listed as “John B.,” “John R.,” and “John G.” – who attended school with Pott at Saratoga High School. One of the accused males transferred into the Gilroy Unified School District last September.
In the amended wrongful death civil case, “Jane C.” is alleged to have “took actions to facilitate the acts…and/or aided, abetted and/or encouraged said acts.”
The amended clause also alleges “Jane C.” was “present in the room while Audrie’s body was exposed and/or photographed and/or being drawn on, encouraging John. B., John R., and/or John G.”
The complaint claims “Jane C.” then zipped and buttoned up Audrie’s pants and covered her with a blanket.
It goes on to read that the female defendant then left Audrie in the room, lied to the victim and others “regarding the events that took place at the party and/or in the ensuing week in order to conceal the truth and/or her involvement and/or her knowledge of those acts.”
“Jane C.” is the only female defendant of the four accused teenagers. Allard explained that she has not been named as a defendant criminally, and added the investigation into the teenager’s alleged sexual assault and subsequent suicide by the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department remains “ongoing.”
Allard, during an April press conference in San Jose, made it clear that Audrie’s suicide was a direct result of the assault on her at a Sept. 2 unsupervised house party and the harassment by the accused that followed.
The nine causes of action listed in the lawsuit are negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, defamation, invasion of privacy, false imprisonment, battery, sexual battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy.
The three accused male teenagers are also being charged in criminal court with two felonies of sexual battery and possession and distributing harmful matter depicting the victim. They are also facing a sexual battery misdemeanor. It is still yet to be determined whether the trio of 16-year-olds will be tried as adults or in juvenile court.
“To think that there were now four different people who could have stopped this from happening is what is very distressing to the family,” Allard said. “When Audrie was in a desperate time of need, these four friends let her down in the worst of ways.”
The three defendants were released into the custody of their parents after appearing in juvenile court April 16. The one suspect who is a CHS student was seen on campus wearing an ankle monitoring bracelet shortly after the detention hearing by multiple classmates. Furthermore, the defendant has been practicing this summer with the CHS Cougars football team, according to Allard’s spokesperson Ed Vasquez as well as another CHS football player.
Allard believes there is evidence, although he would not go into any detail of the findings, that could warrant an accessory after the fact charge for “Jane C.” in criminal court.
“She has offered three, maybe four, different stories about what happened that night and her involvement in it,” said Allard.
He is also bound by a strict gag-order issued by the juvenile court judge and can only describe the four defendants as Pott’s peers.
“We believe the public should now about what is happening…the court is protecting the juveniles, which I understand,” said Allard. “The criminal matter is still pending and the investigation continues.”