The courtroom image of the young man with the crew cut still elicits a grim sense of recognition. Sean Mulveyhill, now 27, has matured from the chubby teenager who made worldwide headlines a decade ago, but his notoriety was renewed this past year as he stood accused of further misdeeds.
A 21-year old female student issued a sworn affidavit in which she alleged that Mulveyhill, who was working as a campus bartender at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, had forced her to "involuntarily engage in sexual relations". In the end no charges were brought in the case but Mulveyhill was placed on administrative leave from his job and the college issued a statement saying it would review its hiring practices. A Massachusetts judge also granted a number of protection orders against Mulveyhill. It all felt like history repeating.
The case made front-page news in Massachusetts last March because of the long shadows cast by the death of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince. Ten years ago Mulveyhill was a new classmate, and a childish love interest for the Irish teenager. She had moved from a small village near Doolin in Co Clare, to America with her US-born mother Anne and younger sister Lauren. Phoebe's father Jeremy, a landscape gardener, remained behind in Clare, with plans to join his wife and daughters later.
Anne was a schoolteacher from Massachusetts, and had taken up a post at the local Mary Immaculate Secondary School. For Phoebe the move was initially a great adventure and she had a ready-made network of cousins in the area. Massachusetts is the most Irish state in the union, a starting point for generations of immigrants from here. The girls kept in touch with their father by phone and seemed to settle in the local schools; with her west Clare accent and good looks Phoebe was bound to be a popular addition to the classroom.
It subsequently emerged that the school she attended, South Hadley High, had an issue with bullying. Prior to her arrival, authorities at the school had drafted in a national bullying expert, but failed to implement her recommendations. And fairly soon, the Irish girl was drawn into the Mean Girls atmosphere that stalked the corridors.
"It was like something from a film; all the little cliques were there," Lauren later recalled. "I had a hard time fitting in and, looking back, I can say that it must have been the same for Phoebe. She always stuck up for me. If I had known what was going on with her, 11 years old or not, I would have marched in there and done something, but she didn't tell me about what was going on. I think she wanted to protect me from it; whenever I saw her she had a smile on her face."
During the autumn of 2009, Phoebe became involved with Mulveyhill, then a high-school football captain who had been named 'class flirt' in the school yearbook. His attentions ignited the jealousy of a number of other girls in the year and they began to gang up on Phoebe and ostracised her, even after the dalliance had ended. From being the cool new girl, Phoebe was suddenly a pariah. She was taunted and abused, books were knocked out of her hand, pencils were thrown at her. Although she herself did not use social media, her name was blackened on various websites.
For a young girl used to the tiny classrooms and peaceful atmosphere of Co Clare it was all too much. On January 14, 2010 she took her own life. Lauren, then just 11, found the body.
"I stayed late that day because I had gardening club. I walked off the bus and up the steps of the house and I saw a sort of blur to my left and I looked and it was her, she was there," Lauren told the Sunday Independent in 2017. "And I just kind of looked, I was in shock. I picked up the phone and dialled 911 and I was sure they would be able to help her. When you are 11 years old, you think that 911 fixes everything."
Anne's tears when she next saw Lauren were all the confirmation that was needed that the worst had indeed happened. And while the family tried to maintain a normal schedule - Lauren continued to go to school, for instance - the family would never again live at the house where Phoebe had taken her own life. The way in which others in the area got on with daily life seemed curiously heartless. In the days after Phoebe's death a cotillion - a kind of junior debs - went ahead at South Hadley High, and some of the kids who it later emerged had bullied her were pictured dancing together. Sean Mulveyhill was one of these.
Mulveyhill, it would later emerge, featured in the suicide note that Phoebe left. She had written "I think Sean condoning this is one of the final nails in my coffin", Anne later said. Phoebe was laid out in the red dress she had been due to wear the cotillion, and Somewhere Over The Rainbow played as mourners wept openly. Her family paid tribute to "the loss of the incandescent enthusiasm of a life blossoming". Phoebe would later be cremated and her ashes brought back to Ireland, where a service was held for her at a packed church in Fanore, Co Clare.
"I can see that they'd want to go ahead, but at the same time, in my mind I can still see the dress she had picked out for the cotillion as she lay in her casket, with her red shoes, and it was horrible," Lauren told the Sunday Independent three years ago. "That was something she was really excited about."
At first Phoebe's death was treated as just another teen suicide - a tragically frequent occurrence in America. David LaBrie, the police chief in South Hadley, said: "A teenage girl appears to have taken her own life... a myriad of issues could have been involved." Gus Sayer, the superintendent for South Hadley High, revealed that Phoebe had been having counselling for "adjustment issues".
But just as social media had been one of the instruments used to torture Phoebe, so now it was utilised to clumsily avenge her. A Facebook page was set up entitled 'Expel the Girls Who Caused Phoebe Prince To Commit Suicide'. It soon gained thousands of members, including several of Phoebe's friends. Another Facebook page entitled 'We Murdered Phoebe Prince' listed the names of the girls and was swiftly taken down by the social media giant.
Gradually, in the face of public pressure, the tone taken by officials changed. The principal of the school, Daniel Smith, issued a letter to parents in which he said that the school was looking into "what role bullying may have played in Phoebe's decision". In mid-February 2010, a public meeting was held in South Hadley at which hundreds of parents called for the girls who had been involved in the bullying to be removed from the school. The following week it was announced that several of the girls would not be returning to the school.
But by then the media had taken notice of the case. The Sunday Independent and the Boston Globe both published pieces on the tragedy and in mid-March Massachusetts' ambitious new district attorney Betsy Scheibel gave a news conference at which she announced that two male and four female teenagers from South Hadley High were to be indicted as adults on felony charges by a Hampshire County grand jury.
These included Ashley Longe, then 18, Sharon Velasquez, then 17, 18-year-olds Mulveyhill and Kayla Narey, and Austin Renaud, then 17; they had a range of criminal charges, ranging from statutory rape by both boys, to harassment and civil rights violations for the girls and Mulveyhill (Renaud was not involved in the bullying, and the charge of statutory rape against him was later dropped).
The charges were the latest landmarks in a wider movement to criminalise school bullying, which had grown out of reactions to school shootings in America, notably the Columbine massacre. There was a growing awareness of bullying as an even greater threat to student mental health than corporal punishment had once been.
"Youthful aggression has always been a problem and always will be; the pitilessness of childhood, like that of the world, is most likely a constant quantity," wrote psychologist Andrew Solomon. There were many in America who subscribed to this notion, including journalist Emily Bazelon, who articulated a feeling that many shared that the cases were the result of overreach on the part of an ambitious prosecutor, who was looking to criminalise childhood misdemeanours. Others felt that the charges were just desserts for young people who had moved into Lord of the Flies-style retribution towards a vulnerable young girl.
The cases progressed slowly through the courts and in the meantime there was a change of district attorney in Massachusetts; the new holder of the office did not seem especially interested in the cases. The teenagers struck plea deals with the prosecution where, in exchange for pleading guilty on the misdemeanour charge of criminal harassment, the more serious charges they faced were dropped. Both Mulveyhill and Narey were ordered to do 100 hours of community service to help at-risk children, and complete their high school education, and were barred from profiting from their involvement in the case.
If the teen bullies by and large escaped legal sanction, they would live the rest of the next decade in the shadow of infamy. Several of them received death threats online. One of the young women, Ashley Koske (formerly Longe), has had a number of run-ins with the law. She was arrested a number of years ago for driving under the influence and was also charged but not convicted of offences related to harassment and damage to a motor vehicle.
Meanwhile, according to Phoebe's father Jeremy, there was no effort by the school to take any of the blame for what had happened. He and Anne would eventually settle a civil action against the school district, and Anne and Lauren moved back to Ireland and tried to get on with life as best they could. Anne and Jeremy separated but continued to live in the same house. Lauren sought psychological help for what she had gone through, and she has said that was helpful.
In the decade since her death, there have been echoes of Phoebe's life and death in law and pop culture in the US. Two books on the case were released. The big-budget Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why dealt with teen suicide, and in both Massachusetts and New York changes to bullying laws - requiring mandatory reporting - formed part of the positive legacy in an otherwise deeply disturbing story. Ten years after Phoebe's death student suicide is on the rise again in the US and the UK, and law-makers on both sides of the Atlantic continues to grapple with the legal and moral issues around bullying and teen suicide.
But even more significant than the social lessons and legal progress, there was always a very real tragedy that to this day affects Phoebe's family.
"She was my big sister; I looked up to her so much," Lauren told the Sunday Independent in 2017. "We bickered but at the end of the day I knew she loved me back. I look at families with girls with older sisters and it still makes me so sad because I am missing out. I'll always miss her."
In Massachusetts, where Phoebe Prince had also died, the story of Conrad Roy was known as 'the texting suicide case'. Roy was a troubled young man, who was deeply affected by his parents' divorce. He had been hospitalised for an overdose when he was 17. By then he had begun seeing Michelle Carter (pictured above), who after initially being supportive, eventually encouraged Roy to take his own life, via a barrage of text messages. In 2017 she was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The case set a precedent regarding the criminality of telling someone to take their own life and the court's consideration of Carter's "virtual presence" could signify an appreciation of new digital methods of committing crimes. Carter is due for release this year.
Around the time that Phoebe Prince died, a few hundred miles away in New Jersey, college student Tyler Clementi was also being very seriously bullied. His roommate secretly filmed him with a webcam kissing another man. Two days later, the roommate urged friends and Twitter followers to watch via his webcam a second tryst between Clementi and his friend, though the viewing never occurred. When Clementi found out about this he took his own life; the roommate was charged with invasion of privacy. Clementi's death provoked reactions from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and brought national attention to issues around cyberbullying LGBT youth.
The 17-year-old, from Balbriggan, took his own life in 2012 after a prolonged campaign of cyberbullying. He had been bullied online in the weeks before his death - over the colour of his skin and because he wore a hearing aid. After the devastating tragedy, Darren's mother Elaine Hughes launched a campaign in a bid to get the law changed over cyberbullying. Following a lengthy Garda investigation and a substantial period of consideration by the DPP, it was decided that no charges were to be brought over the death of the teenager. Ms Hughes said, "I think Darren's case is being dismissed, that more could be done."