Accused in Phoebe case now victims of bullying
Published 09/04/2010 | 05:00
THE American teenagers accused of bullying Phoebe Prince before she took her own life have become victims of bullies themselves, it emerged yesterday.
As three of the accused entered not guilty pleas at a juvenile court in Massachusetts, a Boston newspaper reported that they had become targets of vicious taunts on the internet.
The 'Boston Herald' reported that anonymous 'cyber vigilantes' had created bogus websites under the names of the accused.
The sites include a link to newspaper reports of the 15-year-old Irish girl's suicide following a vicious campaign of bullying and harassment by schoolmates at South Hadley High School in Massachusetts.
The sites -- registered on March 30 to an address in California -- feature violent threats and obscenities in anonymous comments from bloggers.
The newspaper also reported that a lawyer representing one of the accused had received numerous threats, while a local woman who was wrongly identified as the mother of the same accused was forced to leave home for a week due to harassment from local residents.
The newspaper's competitor, 'The Boston Globe', also reported that the whistleblower who alleged that a high-school clique had effectively bullied the pretty student to the grave was also being harassed by locals.
Darby O'Brien claimed he had been subjected to threats by local residents and was almost hit by a car driven at him deliberately by local teenagers when he was out walking his dog.
Meanwhile, lawyers representing Ashley Longe (16), Flannery Mullins (16), and Sharon Chanon Velazquez (16), of South Hadley, Massachusetts, entered not guilty pleas on their behalf during a brief appearance at the Franklin-Hamphire court yesterday morning.
None of the accused appeared in court. They are due to sign on at the local probation department by 3pm today.
They were ordered to stay away from the Prince family and to submit to booking procedures by next Wednesday.
They are all charged as youthful offenders with violation of civil rights, criminal harassment and disturbing a school assembly. Ms Mullins and Ms Velazquez are also charged with stalking, while Ms Longe has been charged with assault using a dangerous weapon.
Three other teens, including high-school football star Sean Mulveyhill (17), Austin Renaud (18) and Kayla Narey (17), pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to various charges in connection with bullying the former Co Clare schoolgirl. The charges included statutory rape.
Mr Mulveyhill was charged with statutory rape, violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly. Ms Narey was charged with violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly.
Mr Renaud was also charged with statutory rape.
The case has made headlines around the world after Ms Prince was found hanged at her South Hadley home on January 14, just five months after she had emigrated to the US with her family from Fanore, Co Clare.
It is alleged that the clique of students -- which included popular and high-achieving pupils -- relentlessly bullied the Irish girl to the point where she eventually took her own life.