Date set for Austin Renaud trial on statutory rape charges of Phoebe Prince
A hearing in Hampshire Superior Court on Tuesday, October 26, scheduled a date next March for 18-year-old Austin Renaud to face trail on the charges of statutory rape of Phoebe Prince.
Renaud is one of six teenagers charged in the bullying of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince who hanged herself in January after a tirade of bullying at the hands of school peers.
Renaud dated Prince for a brief time last year.
The couple had sex but in the eyes of the law Phoebe was still considered a minor.
The other five teenagers have been charged with various bullying/stalking/harassment charges.
Renaud is not charged with anything else except statutory rape.
Because of his age Renaud is being charged as an adult.
Two of the other alleged bullies, Kayla Narey and Sean Mulveyhill (also charged with statutory rape) will be tried as adults.
Flannery Mullins, Ashely Longe and Sharon Velkazquez were charged as juveniles.
The District Attorney who brought the charges against the students, Elizabeth Scheibel, is set to step down at the end of the year.
Her replacement, David Sullivan, will decide if he is to continue with the prosecutions once he takes office.
Sullivan has the discretion to drop the cases or settle for lesser charges against the six teenagers.
All six accused will now face various trial dates in 2011.
Scheibel felt that Prince’s right to an education was taken away from her, and each of the students were in some way responsible for the bodily injury of her suicide.
On Tuesday, Renaud's lawyer Terrance Dunphy said his client remains focused, despite the national media attention.
“It’s a very scary thing for a kid this age to be indicted for this kind of crime,” he said, noting that Renaud could face life in prison if convicted. He called Renaud a “quiet, respectful kid” and said his client has been unable to complete his high school education since being suspended from South Hadley High School earlier this year.
Asked how Renaud feels about Prince’s suicide, Dunphy said he considered her a friend.
“He tried to help her,” Dunphy said. “Circumstances got out of hand and way out of his control.”
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