Irish-born Phoebe Prince was bullied badly on Jan. 14, the day she hanged herself. Massachusetts Northwest District Prosecutor Elizabeth Scheiblel charged that the abuse — online and in person — was far greater than had previously been reported.
Six teenagers and three juvenile students were charged with statutory rape, violation of civil rights, criminal harassment and disturbing a school assembly.
Prince had moved with her family from County Clare in Ireland to South Hadley, MA, where she attended the local high school. After a football player at the school asked her to an annual ball, she became the subject of extreme bullying that ended in her death by suicide two days before the dance.
At today's press conference, Scheibel provided startling new details about the intensity of the bullying that Prince sustained since last fall. She also said that on at least one occasion, a school staffer saw the bullying while Prince was in a school library, but did not report it .
"From information known to investigators thus far, it appears that Phoebe's death on Jan. 14 followed a tortuous day for her, in which she was subjected to verbal harassment and threatened with 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 St. near 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.
Even after she died, several students defaced her Facebook condolences page.
On the day of her death, Scheivbel 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."
It was an especially tragic ending for the Prince family. Anne O'Brien Prince and Jeremy Prince had moved from County Clare to Massachusetts with their five kids in 2009. In Phoebe's death notice, they said they moved in part so "Phoebe could experience America."
Neighbors had long sought justice.
"There needs to be some punishment for those kids (who bullied Prince). They need to be held accountable," said Jeannine O'Brien, a South Hadley mother.
Scheibel's office released this list of those being charged, and the charges they face.
The defendants will be arraigned in the coming weeks.
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