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Alleged Rape Victim's Family To Speak; Family of Alleged Rape Victim Speaks; Kerry Says Ditch The Nukes; Down Payments on Rise

Aired April 15, 2013 - 14:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Continuing right now with Brianna Keilar.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everyone. I'm Brianna Keilar, in for Brooke Baldwin.

Despite mourning the death of their daughter, the family of an alleged rape victim are on a mission to end the cyber bullying they say pushed her to end her life. We are moments away from hearing from the parents of Audrie Pott in a live news conference. Pott was a popular California teenager who loved art, music and skiing. Then September 2nd happened. The was the night a sleepover she attended turned into an unsupervised drinking party. Pott passed out, woke up, and first got a hint of what three reported friends allegedly did to her.


LAUREN CERRI, POTT FAMILY ATTORNEY: She had no idea what occurred until she woke up the following morning and had some drawing on her body in some private areas.


KEILAR: She soon learned students were sharing images of her attack. Audrie, who was 15 at the time, posted this on FaceBook. "They took pictures of me. My life is ruined. This is my worst day ever." Pott killed herself eight days after that party. And on Friday, Santa Clara County investigators arrested three boys current or past students at her high school, Saratoga High. They are facing juvenile charges of sexual battery and distributing illegal images of a minor.


SHERIFF LORI SMITH, SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Well, we know that we did find photographs and we believe that she was aware that those photographs were out there. She was very upset by it. I know there were photographs out there. And that's probably what led to the suicide, or at least was a huge contributing factor. It's a tragic case. It's so sad.


KEILAR: Terribly sad and galvanizing. Days after her death, Saratoga High had a teal day in her honor. That was her favorite color. And a vigil is planned for Friday. Her family has set up a foundation to stop cyber bullying and they also plan to sue the families of the boys. An attorney for one of the defendants gave this statement to KGO.

"Much of what has been reported over the last several days has been inaccurate. Most disturbing is the attempt to link Audrie's suicide to the specific actions of these three boys."

We will take you to the news conference as soon as it gets started. No specific student went to police about Audrie's alleged attack. The Santa Clara sheriff says Saratoga High administrators notified her office after hearing rumors among the students.

I'm going to turn now to clinical psychologist Barbara Greenberg. So, Barbara, Audrie's high school paper, "The Falcon," just reported that maybe 10 students in all saw these pictures. Ten students. Why do you think none of them went to police?

BARBARA GREENBERG, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: It's very interesting what happens when you have a group of kids. You get sort of this group think that goes on, where everybody assumes that it's somebody else's responsibility to do something. And that really concerns me in the deepest possible way that you have so many kids witnessing something so tragic happening and nobody takes responsibility.

I think this is where there's a lot of room for parents' education, for parents it teach their kids that if they see something tragic, or an atrocity, or even something that smacks of emotional pain going on, that they need to bear some responsibility for their friends and their peers. That kids should be taught not only to look out for themselves, but to look out for one another.

KEILAR: And, Barbara, stand by with us for just a moment. That press conference is now taking place and we're going to go ahead and listen in.


ROBERT ALLARD, POTTS FAMILY ATTORNEY: These were young men who committed these crimes. It is our understanding that the hearing will determine if they should be released. The parents, upon Audrie's suicide, were devastated and searching for answers. Based on rumors, some of Audrie's friends came forward. And after a review of Audrie's own FaceBook, the parents suspected that Audrie had been violated in a terrible way, and that at least one photograph of a sexual assault in which she was a victim was passed around electronically to humiliate her.

So they hired my firm to get to the bottom of this and to get some answers. And the first thing we did was hire the very best. And we've conducted a diligent, exhaustive investigation and we have some answers.

Based upon the investigation we have conducted, sadly not only did these despicable things happen, but we believe that Audrie decided to end her life as a result of what these young men did. We now know that during the Labor Day weekend of 2012, Audrie attended a party at a friend's house while her friends' parents were away. After consuming alcohol at the party, Audrie became intoxicated and unconscious. She went to a bed to go to sleep, hoping to wake up the next day and go to school and start the school year.

Instead, she woke up to an absolute nightmare. She knew right away that something was terribly wrong. This is the beginning of the horrible events that occurred and then she learned that at least one photograph was taken of her. Those involved distributed at least one photograph in person in via text messages to other students at Saratoga High School. In Audrie's own words, "the whole school knows."

It's important to focus on what Audrie was thinking. These are her words, "the whole school knew." Whether 10 students had looked at this photograph or whether it was one, whatever it was, it was that much too many. If 10 students saw this photograph, where were those students in coming forward and talking to these parents? How many more knew about it? We know how kids talk. If we know 10 students saw the photograph, how many more talked about it?

What we do know is what Audrie was thinking. And what she was thinking is that the whole school knew and she felt that her life was ruined as a result of the distribution of her being violated. At a time when Audrie should have been thinking about who her next date was going to be at the next school dance, she was dealing with something as a 15- year-old that hardly any of us are capable of dealing with. The sexual assault was one thing. When it's committed by three people who you knew, these were friends, and then to be publicly humiliated and disgraced in front of her whole student body, that was too much for this young girl to take.

In Audrie's FaceBook messages, we find writings of a young girl who felt traumatized, humiliated, and shamed by what they had done to her. Lisa, her stepmother, will speak to those FaceBook messages. Audrie, in her own words, names two -- names two of the young men by name and she recognizes what they did to her. And she says, as a result of what these young men did to her, "my life is ruined now."

On the day of the tragedy, Audrie called her mother to ask her to come pick her up at school. And in her own words, "I can't do this anymore, mom. Please pick me up." Audrie's mom, Sheila, picked her up and when they got home, a tragedy occurred.

There is more to this story and the parents deserve the answers. Students at the school knew what happened. We now know today that at least 10 students saw this photograph. Where were they? I am urging parents, we, as a group, are urging parents to have a discussion with your children. If there is any information you know about this horrible event, and the aftermath of the distribution of not only a photograph, but defamatory words about Audrie, please come forward. Talk to these decorated police officers. Our job is to find out the truth.

It's important to note that this family has been waiting for seven months to hear from the families of one of these three young men. Seven months. That's over 200 days and they have passed by very slowly. The first word we heard from any of these three young men's families was through a group of lawyers, three of them, criminal defense lawyers, who issued a public statement. Silly us, maybe we thought that they would get some condolences. I'm sorry, Mrs. Pott, about your daughter. My son did something horrible. I wish to make amends. I'm sorry, Mr. And Mrs. Pott, what happened was inexcusable. We will not tolerate that again. We will make sure it doesn't happen again.

But instead what we got from this camp of lawyers were two statements. Number one, that what we're talking about is inaccurate. And I'll let the parents talk about what's accurate and what's not. And number two, and I have to quote this, because it's worth quoting. And this is a quote from the criminal defense lawyers' camp. Quote, "most disturbing." "Most disturbing," they say, "is the attempt to link Audrie's suicide to the specific actions of these three boys." End quote.

They will apparently have you all believe that what they did, and what Audrie did, have nothing to do with each other. That it's just a sheer coincidence that Audrie was subjected to a sexual assault, and over the next seven days was humiliated. And then she decides to do this to herself, but there is no cause and effect whatsoever.

Frankly, this sent us over the edge, because it tells - it tells us that these boys, and perhaps their families, to this day refuse to accept responsibility. And that's what the court system is for, for when people who refuse to admit that they're wrong, then we'll use the civil justice system to prove that they're wrong. And that's exactly what we intend to do.

Today, in Santa Clara County Superior Court, we will be filing a wrongful death cause of action against these three young men, and we intend to prove in a court of law that their actions, not only for the sexual assault, but what they did afterwards, the despicable, horrific, traumatic, defaming and savage actions they did in the next seven days broke her. She couldn't handle it. And she did the worst thing a parent can ever imagine is that she ended her life.

The parents of this county across the state, across this country, deserve a safe community for children. While we cannot bring Audrie back, it is the family's goal that the community is made safer by holding these young men accountable, by sending a message that the behavior that left Audrie feeling hopeless and alone will not be tolerated.

Serious consequences must be attached to this kind of behavior. Our children deserve to grow up in a safe community. Let me end in stating this, we hope that our message is clear, to do honor to Audrie's name, we must make this world a better place by addressing the dangers of cyber bullying, sexual assault amongst teens, and the harassment that happens to teenagers. Talk to your children. Let's educate. Let's legislate. Let's get our politicians involved and use Audrie's name to make it better for children. Thank you.

And at this point in time I will have Mrs. Sheila Pott say a few words.

SHEILA POTT, AUDRIE'S MOTHER: Good morning. My name is Sheila Pott. I am Audrie's mother.

First, I would like to thank all of those around the world who have expressed their love for Audrie and the sadness we have all shared that she was driven to leave us in the way that she did.

Audrie was a joy to everyone that she was around. She warmed the room with her smile and made us laugh with her incredible wit and sense of humor. Audrie had a kind and gentle heart that from a very young age she formed relationships not only with her friends, but adults of all ages. She had a quality for bringing joy and laughter to all those that she was around. There is not a day or an hour that passes that I'm not warmed by a memory of her.

In the days and months that followed the investigation, I learned that there was a serious flaw in the laws that surround the assault on my daughter. I discovered that if a victim does not have the ability to protest to a sexual assault, it is seen as a lesser crime than if she was conscious and able to fight off her attacker. I also learned that in California, a sexual assault, strikingly similar to that Steubenville, Ohio, case, was not considered rape and therefore could not be escalated to an adult court. Needless to say, I was outraged. It seemed that the system was not designed to protect those who could not protect themselves.

To make matters worse, since we are now limited to the penalties present in the juvenile system, my daughter's attackers may never have to serve time, never have to register as sex offenders and since a juvenile's identity is protected, there would never be any future impact on these boys' lives. My immediate thought was, if there was no public impact in their lives, how could this ever be a deterrent? No wonder this type of crime is growing in frequency.

This further -- the further impact of social media being used to bully the victim makes it just that much worse. These types of crimes are not juvenile. Sexual assault is an adult crime. These boys distributed the pictures to humiliate and further bully my daughter. If this can happen to my daughter, it can happen to anyone.

These boys were not strangers to Audrie. They were her friends. This breach of trust would be difficult for an adult to handle, let alone a young girl. These individuals calculated their assault, harassed the victim with the photos and then took steps to cover up the evidence. There was no remorse here.

These were not the actions of a child, but of a person whose value systems were so skewed that they will do this again. I want to take serious steps to see that this doesn't happen to another one of our children. Audrie's Law is still in the research phase. I want to thank you all for allowing us to tell her story and to attempt to make changes that will make our communities and schools once again safe.

Thank you.


KEILAR: The mother there of Audrie Pott talking to reporters in northern California. Let's bring in our expert, Barbara Greenberg, just for one last question before we go.

Barbara, it's very clear, and you hear this from the attorney and also from the mother of Audrie Pott, her distress became so much greater following the alleged sexual assault because she found out there were pictures. And we've seen other cases like this. Why did this - sort of, what is the effect of that on a victim?

GREENBERG: She expected, I am quite sure, that her friends and her peers would give her support after this atrocity happened to her. And instead of support, she got further humiliation. And I think the combination of what happened to her, the assault, plus the lack of support and further humiliation, was just too much for her to handle. It would be too much for anybody to handle. And even her teenage female friends were unable to support her, likely because they wanted to remain popular with the boys and didn't want to lower their social status. Very sad. And I think as a society we need to do a lot of repair work here. We, as parents, need to teach their kids to be responsible for one another and as psychologists we need to educate parents.

KEILAR: And that's something that we heard from the family there, they don't want this to happen to other girls and they're trying to raise awareness. Barbara Greenberg, thank you so much for talking to us about this terrible, terrible incident.

GREENBERG: A pleasure.

KEILAR: Now tonight, Audrie Pott's parents will speak live with Piers Morgan right here on CNN at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

And up next, while North Korea celebrates, the world watches for the communist nation to make a move. Up next, a live report from the region on whether the country's closer to launching a missile.

Plus, I'm just getting word, gold has plunged 9 percent as the Dow tanks in these last couple hours of trading. The reasons behind it, next.


KEILAR: A party in North Korea as the communist country celebrates the birthday of the man it call the eternal leader. It's late founder Kim Il-sung. This is the single most important holiday of the year in North Korea, and it seems it was a peaceful one. But the world is watching, wondering if North Korea will ever follow through on its threats to launch a missile from the Korean peninsula.

Meantime, it's time to knock off the tough talk and ditch the nukes. That's the message for North Korea from Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry was in Japan today after quick stops in Seoul and Beijing. Take a listen to what he told CNN's Jill Dougherty today.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: What's important is government to government. North Korea knows what it has to do. We're not, you know, changing our policy with respect to talking to them, because we need to make it clear that they have to move towards the denuclearization, they need to stop the threats, they need to stop the missile tests, stop the nuclear tests and we're prepared to come to the table under the meeting of the obligations in order to have a full-fledged negotiation. And we will negotiate the full set of concerns that the North has.


KEILAR: CNN's Anna Coren is live in Seoul, South Korea, for us.

So, Anna, many had expected that the missile launch would happen today. So what is the silence out of North Korea telling us?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, it's hard to tell. You know, the thing about North Korea is that they are just so unpredictable. I mean today was an extremely auspicious day, the most important day on the North Korean calendar. So they wouldn't want to necessarily upstage the celebrations of the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, and they also wouldn't want a failure of a missile launch. You know, they wouldn't want that room for errors. So that's probably why that missile launch did not happen today.

But that's not to say that it's not going to happen. You know, the thing that the North Koreans love to do is to catch the international community off guard. It's almost like a favorite pastime for the North Koreans.

So what we know is that those two Musudan medium-range ballistic missiles are still positioned on the east coast of North Korea. They are fueled up. They are ready to go. We haven't seen any movement, but that's not to say that they won't try and catch us off guard in the coming days or coming weeks.

KEILAR: That's right, Anna. What would you say, they are predictably unpredictable in North Korea. Anna Coren for us, thank you, there.


KEILAR: Now back here at home, rebound or risk? More and more home buyers putting just 10 percent down. Up next, find out what's behind the growth of low down payment loans.


KEILAR: We're getting more and more reports about a recovery in the housing market. In February, existing home sales hit a three-year high. But the best evidence might be the return of mortgages with 10 percent down, or even less. Banks and others are relaxing the lending standards, making it easier for more people to buy a home. Let's talk about it with Rick Newman, chief business correspondent for "U.S. News & World Report."

So, Rick, you know, a lot of us hear about these relaxing standards and the first thing we think about are those infamous liar loans when it seemed like anyone could just walk in and get a home loan. Are we going back to those days? Should we be concerned?

RICK NEWMAN, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": I don't think so. I don't think we're going anywhere near those days when you didn't have to document your income and you could claim all kinds of things that may not have been true and still get a mortgage. This is really a return of the mortgage markets to something that's more or less normal. I mean there's nothing that says 20 percent down is a rule. It just so happens that that became pretty much the peak standard during the last few years in order to get a mortgage. But we're going back to lower credit scores, what will allow you to get a mortgage, less of a down payment.

And, you know, the old rules are still in place. You're still going to have to pay a little bit more. If you have less than 20 percent, you're going to have to buy mortgage insurance. That's a standard rule. This is -- all this represents is the mortgage market basically healing.

KEILAR: OK. So they were too lax, which obviously we saw lead to the housing crisis. Then they maybe were a little too strict in lending, so now they're normalizing. But what about these super low interest rates that folks have been enjoying for so long? Is that going to continue?

NEWMAN: Well, thank Ben Bernanke for those low rates. This is the result of this so-called quantitative easing that's been placed -been in place more or less since the end of 2008. It's actually starting to work, Brianna. I mean it has taken a lot longer than anybody would have liked, but we're finally seeing this sort of result that the Fed was trying to get, which is that interest rates are low and ordinary people can actually get loans. It's that second part that's been the problem for a while.

This can't go on forever. A lot of people on Wall Street are warning that interest rates may start to go up by the end of this year. And at some point the Fed is going to have to end all of this stimulus. That's a big question on Wall Street. It seems unlikely that will happen this year. More likely maybe 2014 or early 2015, but it's coming.

KEILAR: Rates going up perhaps at the end of the year. I guess I understand why the market, certainly here in the D.C. area, is booming. Rick Newman for us, thank you.

NEWMAN: Sure thing.

KEILAR: Up next, my hot topics panel faces off. First, John Kerry says some foreign students are scared of America because of guns.

Plus, George W. Bush, revealed. The former president gives an interview and he opens up about his mysterious paintings.