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Attorney: Tentative deal in teen suicide

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POSTED August 12, 2013 12:54 a.m.

SARATOGA  (AP) — The family of a 15-year-old Northern California girl who killed herself after the family says three boys sexually assaulted her and a photo of the attack circulated has reached a tentative settlement with two defendants in a lawsuit over her death, their attorney said Saturday.

The family of Audrie Pott reached the deal with Michael and Sheila Penuen, the owners of the home where Pott was allegedly assaulted, attorney Robert Allard said.

Allard said he could not discuss details of the settlement, which still requires a judge’s approval.

“What is important in this settlement is we were approached by a set of defendants who wanted to stand up for what is right and move on with their lives and allow the Potts to move on with their lives,” Allard said.

A woman who picked up the phone at a listing for the Penuens said she had no comment.

Audrie hanged herself in September, about a week after passing out drunk at a party at the Penuens’ house, where authorities say boys took off her clothes and sexually assaulted her. The Penuens had left their teen daughter behind while they went out of town, according to Audrie’s family.

Their wrongful death lawsuit claims the Penuens had a “duty to prevent” parties from taking place at their home.

The assault included writing and drawing on intimate parts of Audrie’s body, according to authorities. Audrie’s family has said she later saw a group of students at school huddled around a cellphone and realized that at least one humiliating photo of her was circulating.

Audrie discussed her feelings in social media postings.

“I have a reputation for a night I don’t even remember and the whole school knows,” she wrote in one Facebook message to a friend, according to her family.

“I cried when I found out what they did,” she wrote in another.

The AP does not routinely identify victims of sexual assault. But in this case, Pott’s family wanted her name and case known, Allard has said.

Three boys have been charged criminally in the case, each with sexual battery, dissemination of child pornography and possession of child pornography. They, their parents and a 15-year-old girl have also been named in the wrongful death lawsuit.

Allard said an investigation by the family shows at least one of the boys facing criminal charges disseminated similar photos after Audrie’s death.

Calls to Santa Clara County sheriff’s spokesman Kurtis Stenderup and Eric Geffon, an attorney who at least initially represented one of the boys, were not returned Saturday afternoon.

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