Three teens in sexual assault case, suicide appear in US court

SAN JOSE, California (AP) - Three teens facing charges in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old Northern California girl who committed suicide after the attack appeared in court for the first time on Tuesday.

The proceedings were not public, and lawyers involved in the case declined to comment.

The three 16-year-old boys are each charged with sexual battery, dissemination of child pornography and possession of child pornography.

Attorneys and family members of the defendants were seen entering juvenile court, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

Relatives of Audrie Pott, who hanged herself after a humiliating photo of her on the night of the attack circulated online, were also there.

Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Jaron Shipp said he could not comment or provide any information on the case because the boys are juveniles.

Meanwhile, Mr Robert Allard, an attorney for Audrie's family, announced on Tuesday that they have filed a claim with the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District over what they say was negligence by school administrators in addressing bullying which they say Audrie suffered while she was a student at Saratoga High School.

Filing a claim is a necessary step before a lawsuit can be filed against a public agency.

Mr Allard claims that school administrators did not act on bullying concerns brought up to the principal who preceded the school's current principal Paul Robinson, and that Mr Robinson proclaimed that bullying was not the cause of Audrie's Sept 10 suicide despite having knowledge of the police investigation into the alleged assault.

"That caused a great deal of anxiety for the family," Mr Allard said. "From the mother's perspective, it was extremely inappropriate and insensitive for the school to have announced to the student body Audrie's passing before the family even understood that she had passed."

A call to the school district late on Tuesday seeking comment was not immediately returned.