NOVEL SETTLEMENT IN AUDRIE POTT WRONGFUL DEATH CASE
April 4, 2015
Yesterday the Audrie Pott wrongful death suit settled.
Background: When Audrie was fifteen, she went to a high school house party and drank too much vodka and gatorade. She retired to an upstairs bedroom and fell asleep. When she awoke, she was half-naked with messages scrawled on her body. Three boys had sexually assaulted her. They took pictures. The pictures circulated around Saratoga High. Her life as she knew it was over. And then it actually was. Eight days later she hanged herself in the bathroom of her mother’s house. Life supported was terminated two days later on September 12, 2012.
The penal consequences for the three offenders, all 15 and 16 years old, were predictably fluffy. Two of them were sentenced to thirty days of juvie that they could serve on the weekends. The other served 45 consecutive days. All three are on track to graduate a couple months from now.
It’s a highly involved and creative agreement that reflects the Potts’ desire for the boys to be publicly accountable for their deeds. (In fact, the suit was filed only after the boys still had not apologized seven months after her death. They settled earlier with the one boy who had expressed remorse. At the time of the settlement, a motion brought by the boys to close the court to the public were still pending. Her parents not only opposed the motion but also wanted to publicly name the teens who are now eighteen. They themselves had made the decision to go public with their daughter’s name, which would have otherwise been kept anonymous as not only a victim of a sex crime, but also an underage litigant.)
The agreement requires a total of $950,000 in restitution.
These are the nonmonetary terms of the agreement:
1) Admit the allegations as contained in the respective criminal complaints that pertain to Audrie Pott on the record in the presence of Judge Walsh.
2) Publish the following apology: I, [John B. or John R.] am truly sorry for your loss. I apologize that we said things that made it seem Audrie invited or encouraged these acts. We admit that we committed these acts and shared inappropriate images of Audrie to others. I apologize for initially denying these acts. Audrie wasn’t conscious during the criminal acts that we committed and did not consent to what we did. Audrie did not consent nor was involved in any voluntary sexual acts that evening. I also apologize for false rumors about Audrie that served to shame and humiliate her. Audrie did not deserve nor would any human being deserve what we put Audrie through. She was a good and principled person who did not deserve what happened to her. We would like every teenager out there to understand that words about someone’s character can have a life altering effect. That taking advantage of an incapacitated human being is a crime each and every time. In memory of Audrie, I will participate and support a petition to the Saratoga High School administration to give an honorary diploma to Audrie because my actions contributed to preventing her from graduating. I will also whole heartedly support the mission statement of the Audrie Pott Foundation and will support any effort made by the Audrie Pott Foundation to enact future laws to protect children from similar tragedies to positively impact young lives.
3) Make a public verbal apology consistent with the apology in item (2) on the record in front of Judge Walsh. Each defendant will draft a verbal apology based on Section (2) of this Agreement and his sincere remorse. The Pott family must approve the draft prior to each defendant making his verbal apology.
4) Each defendant must appear in the current production “Actual Films” and or Pott family choice of documentary for a 45 minute filmed interview. Provide an honest and open account of the events on September 2nd and the following week that at a minimum does not conflict substantially with deposition statements and/or Section (2) of this Agreement. The interview will not show the defendants’ faces or identify their names. Each defendant must complete their respective interview within ninety (90) days of the execution of this Agreement.
5) Allow use of defendants’ deposition videos subject to any court order already in place. The chosen deposition videos will not show the defendants’ faces or identify their names.
6) Each defendant must give ten (10) presentations on the topics listed below in a question and answer format as moderated by a neutral selected person at any high school or similar youth organizations in the country at reasonable times and places. At least two (2) of the ten presentations must occur at a high school chosen by the Audrie Pott Foundation other than Saratoga High School or Christopher High School on the condition that the Audrie Pott Foundation arranges said speeches. The Parties, the Audrie Pott Foundation and their representatives will not film the presentations or recorded in a way that shows their faces or identifies their names. The two (2) presentations designated by the Audrie Pott Foundation must be completed within six (6) months of the execution of this Agreement. The eight (8) presentations not designated by the Audrie Pott Foundation must be completed within two years of the execution of this Agreement. [Deleted] Two (2) years within the execution of this Agreement the defendants shall provide written confirmation of the completion of the tasked assigned in section (6). The topics the presentations shall cover include but are not limited to the following areas:
– Dissemination of nude photographs
– Soliciting nude photographs
– Slut shaming, spreading rumors
– Dangers of alcohol and drugs
7) In the event any of these terms are not fully complied with by any of the parties, William Gavin, as neutral arbitrator, shall sanction the violating party at a minimum $5,000 and at a maximum of $100,000.
8) The terms of the settlement will be public. Any monetary settlement will reflect that it is being paid by the defendants’ insurance companies.
9) Complete all public apologies by Monday, April 6th.
10) Reciprocal anti-defamation clause. The Parties to this Agreement and their lawyers, their lawyers’ representatives, agents, servants and/or employees agree and represent that they will not falsely defame or slander each other at any time following the execution of the Agreement. This includes not to taking any action which could reasonably be expected to adversely affect the others personal or professional reputation. The violation of this clause will be subject to Section 7 of this Agreement.
11) Global release in a form to be agreed by the Parties in a form similar to the release of Doe 1.