According to Erik Eckholm and Katie Zezima of the Times, the first official accounts of the case have been released by prosecutors, describing in greater detail than ever before the torment Prince allegedly suffered at the hands of fellow teenagers Ashley Longe, Flannery Mullins and Sharon Chanon Velazquez (six other teens will be tried separately). The documents assert that Longe began bullying Prince after Prince dated her friend's boyfriend, and that Mullins's and Velazquez's crimes began when Prince was linked to a boy who also sometimes dated Mullins. Mullins allegedly threatened to "beat Phoebe up"; Velazquez said she would "punch her in the face." Most damningly, the documents tell of Prince's attempts to get help from school administrators — at one point, she told friends she had gone to see a school official about her fears, but that no action had been taken. Administrators dispute the account — school superintendent Gus Sayer says,
We were aware of some of the things that changed for Phoebe, but we weren't aware of any bullying. If she had said she was being bullied we would have acted on it immediately.
But Sayer also acknowledges that Prince had approached an administrator crying, and it seems like school officials failed to put two and two together. The newly released accounts paint a picture of bullying that was obvious and ongoing, and sometimes took place in front of teachers, and Prince shouldn't necessarily have had to explicitly report it for her school to understand what was going on.
Still, the main target of ire has been the alleged bullies themselves — just after their names were released, four websites sprang up to slam and threaten them. The sites, now taken down, targeted Longe, Mullins, Velazquez, and fellow suspect Kayla Narey. Writes Greg Salumon of The Republican,
In each site's original iteration, a headline called its subject a "bullying bitch." Introductory text on each site also stated that its subject "...should not be walking this earth," and encouraged readers to "...throw things at her, spit on her, call her names, give her back what she has been dealing to others."
Oddly, given their willingness to incite violence against the girls before any conviction, the creators also wrote of two boys charged with the statutory rape of Prince, "We cannot post text calling theim (sic) RAPISTS until they are convicted and found guilty." The Republican's investigation of the sites' origins led to a web design firm in Irvine, California, which would not reveal who had commissioned the sites. Whoever the creators are, they have clearly failed to learn from Prince's death. If Prince's alleged bullies are found guilty, they certainly deserve punishment. But no one deserves the slurs and threats that Prince endured, and to turn them against other children is to perpetuate a cycle of savagery that desperately needs to be broken.
Image via The Republican.
South Hadley Police Chief David J. LaBrie Watching Threats Against Phoebe Prince's Alleged Bandullies; Developer Of Web Sites Targeting Female Defendants Declines To Name Client [The Republican, via MassLive.com]
Documents Detail A Girl's Final Days Of Bullying [NYT]