NORTHAMPTON -- Six teenagers plus three juvenile students were charged today in connection with the death of Phoebe Prince, the South Hadley teenager who allegedly took her own life in response to a barrage of bullying.
The charges include statutory rape, violation of civil rights, criminal harassment, and disturbing a school assembly, Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel announced.
"Their conduct far exceeded the limits of normal teenage relationship-related quarrels,'' Scheibel said of the nine teens, the oldest of whom is 18 years old, now facing criminal charges.
Among those charged, according to Scheibel, were three teenage girls accused of violating Prince's civil rights, criminal harassment, and disturbing a school assembly. Two male teens are facing charges of statutory rape.
Late today, the South Hadley school superintendent's office released a statement saying they had not been briefed by Scheibel on the results of the investigation. As a result, the system declined comment until that conversation is held with the prosecutor, possibly as late as next week.
"We will then review this evidence, and particularly the new information which the district attorney’s office has, but did not come to light within the investigation conducted by the school'' said the statement issued by Assistant Superintendent Christine Sweklo. "Once we are able to obtain this information we will be able to make a more comprehensive statement and possibly take further action against the students still attending South Hadley High School.''
The statement did not identify what that new information might be, but last month Superintendent Gus Sayer said no one in the system was aware of the troubles Prince, an Irish immigrant, was facing. Today, Scheibel said the opposite was true.
"The investigation has revealed that certain faculty, staff and administrators of the high school also were alerted to the harassment of Phoebe Prince before her death,'' the district attorney said. And "prior to Phoebe's death, her mother spoke with at least two school staff members about the harassment Phoebe had reported to her.''
Prince's death and the 2009 death of 11-year-old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, 11, of Springfield, helped motivate both the Senate and the House to push through new antibullying measures. A conference committee is to meet this week to settle differences between the two versions.
She committed suicide two days before a high school dance this January, a death that school officials say followed merciless bullying directed at Prince by classmates at South Hadley High School.
Phoebe Prince (Family photo/Springfield Republican)
At today's press conference, Scheibel provided stunning new details about the intensity of bullying Prince sustained since last Sept. 1 and until her death in January 14.
"From information known to investigators thus far, it appears that Phoebe's death on January 14th followed a tortuous day for her, in which she was subjected to verbal harassment and threatened physical abuse,'' Scheibel said.
On that day, she said, Prince was harassed while she was studying in the school library around lunch period, as she walked in the hallways near the end of the school day, and as she walked on Newton Street toward her home.
"The harassment reported to have occurred that day in the school library, appears to have been conducted in the presence of a faculty member and several students, but went unreported to school administrators until after Phoebe's death,'' Scheibel said.
On the day of her death, she said, a male and two females were involved in behavior that "appears to have been motivated by the group's displeasure with Prince's brief dating relationship with the male student.''
Scheibel's office released this list of those being charged, and the charges they face.
-- Sean Mulveyhill, 17, of South Hadley, charged with statutory rape, violation of civil rights, criminal harassment, disturbance of a school assembly.
-- Austin Renaud, 18, of Springfield, charged with statutory rape.
-- Kayla Narey, 17, of South Hadley, charged with violation of civil rights, criminal harassment, disturbance of a school assembly.
-- Ashley Longe, 16, of South Hadley, charged with violation of civil rights, as a youthful offender.
-- Flannery Mullins, 16, of South Hadley, charged with violation of civil rights as a youthful offender, stalking as a youthful offender.
-- Sharon Chanon Velazquez, 16, of South Hadley, charged with violation of civil rights as a youthful offender, stalking as a youthful offender.
Three juveniles, all females from South Hadley, are also facing charges as juveniles, Scheibel's office said. Two of the complaints charge one count each of violation of civil rights, criminal harassment, and disturbance of a school assembly. One complaint charges one count each of violation of civil rights, assault by means of a dangerous weapon (bottle, can, or beverage container), and disturbance of a school assembly.
Also, one of the juveniles was charged in a separate complaint involving a second victim, with one count of assault and battery.
The defendants will be summoned to court for arraignment in the coming weeks.
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