Suicide Following Circulation of Sexual Assault Photos Reminds of Dangers of Cyberbullying


May 06, 2013

Our Georgia personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates are committed to speaking out and supporting efforts to stop bullying of elementary, middle school and high school kids. The tragic consequences of such bullying have garnered national attention following the tragic suicide of Audrie Potts after her alleged sexual assault.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of this young girl in the wake of this terrible tragedy. While the criminal case and wrongful death lawsuit are pending, the popular 15-year-old, who was a member of a band that played at President Obama's inauguration, allegedly took her own life after pictures of her sexual assault by several teenage boys were circulated online.

If these allegations are proven, they constitute far more than just bullying but rather a criminal act and intentional tort (intentional act that causes harm to another). However, the circulation of pictures of the assault demonstrates the potential severity and cruelty of online harassment and bullying. While it is hard to imagine the emotional pain that would be endured by a middle school-aged girl who learns she was raped while she was unconscious on a bed, the humiliation of having photos of such an attack published on the Internet only accentuates the intensity of this pain.

Because reports suggest that the girl only committed suicide after the photos were sent by email and text to some students at a local high school, the humiliation associated with the bullying may have been the factor that pushed her into her tragic decision. She took her own life eight days after the assault when the photos emerged. She posted on Facebook that her life had been ruined and that it was the "worst day ever."

While bullying can be difficult to detect if kids are hesitant or embarrassed to discuss what is happening, this sad and unnecessary loss of a talented young girl shows the need for parents to take bullying seriously. Increasingly, bullies are taking to online forums to inflict emotional pain and humiliation on other kids. When kids display sudden changes in demeanor or express hesitation about going to school, parents may want to ask their kids if they are experiencing bullying. Sometimes kids are apprehensive about discussing bullying, but parents may be able to determine that their child is being victimized by monitoring their kid's emails, text messaging and social media activity.

While our Georgia bullying personal injury and wrongful death attorneys know that a civil judgment or settlement cannot undo the harm caused by abusive bullying behavior, it can provide a means of holding those who perpetrate such acts financially responsible for the harm they cause. A civil liability claim can also provide recovery to help those who have been victimized by bullies and their families recover from the pain and heartache.

Montlick & Associates is the Founding Sponsor of a national anti-bullying organization called the Ambassador for Kids Club.  For more information about that program, and to learn what you can to do help prevent, stop and report bullying and child abuse, visit a4kclub.org.

Our Georgia personal injury attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to personal injury victims throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast. 

Montlick & Associates concentrates its practice on personal injury law, providing caring and high quality legal representation. The firm was recently honored by the Georgia House of Representatives for its 30 years of service, with the passing of House Resolution 394, recognizing Montlick & Associates for "the outstanding accomplishments of this distinguished firm," and “for providing efficient, effective and dedicated services to the citizens of Georgia.”   

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Category: Personal Injury

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