Bullied To Death

Friday, May 6, 2011 - 11:46am

Teens accused of bullying campaign that ended in classmate's suicide receive probation.

Statutory rape charges in the bullying case of a Massachusetts teen were dropped Thursday, bringing an end to the criminal cases surrounding the girl’s suicide.

In all, six teens were brought up on charges relating to the harassment and bullying of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, but none of them will be serving any jail time.

The District Attorney announced that he would be dropping the statutory rape charges against Austin Renaud after the other five teens entered into plea agreements for probation.

Flannery Mullins, Sharon Velazquez and Ashley Longe all admitted to their role in the bullying of Phoebe Prince in the days leading up to her suicide.

“Phoebe tried to be strong,” Anne O’Brien, Phoebe’s mother, said in a victim impact statement. “But sometimes people want nothing more than to break you.”

O’Brien supported punishments of probation and community service for the teens, but others wanted more.

“I think an ‘I’m sorry’ would have been touching to the family and stuff to know that they actually are sorry for what they’ve done,” Tara Berard, Prince’s friend, said.

Phoebe’s mother told the court she did get that apology from one of the six teens brought up on charges.

“I am very satisfied that the accountability and genuine remorse we have been asking for since the 14th of January, 2010, has been offered to me by Ashley Longe,” she said.

Attorneys for Sharon Velazquez and Flannery Mullins said their clients are sorry and have been punished.

“My client and the other defendants have been demonized in the minds of the American public as mean girls and bullies,” Mullins’ attorney Alfred Chamberland said.

The District Attorney said this isn’t full justice because nothing will bring Phoebe back, but he said it is justice with her family’s blessing.

“The O’Brien and Prince family was never looking for these teenagers to go to jail,” District Attorney David Sullivan said.

Sullivan said he hopes Phoebe’s legacy will be an increased awareness about bullying.

Phoebe’s good friend said things have gotten better at South Hadley High School - there’s still bullying, but it’s no longer tolerated.

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