Sources say that 'around 10 students' saw illicit photos of Audrie Pott
Editor's note: The story has been revised to include the comments of Sasan Sadaat. There also appears to be some confusion on the reporting in this story. The reporters did not take a poll of 50 students to arrive at the conclusion that around 10 students had seen the photos. Rather, the reporting centered on five sources very well connected with the situation. The three sources mentioned in this story gave higher estimates of the number than the other two, whose credibilities The Falcon had reason to suspect.
Although the national media reported that illicit photos of sophomore Audrie Pott’s unconscious body went “viral” among students at the school, several students familiar with the situation have said that they think roughly 10 people saw them, and that the photos never went on Facebook.
Like several other sources for this story, a sophomore boy spoke on condition of anonymity. The boy, who was close friends with both Pott and the arrested boys, said that fewer than 10 people saw the "viral" pictures. He also said that as far as he knew, no pictures were uploaded to Facebook. He said that only the people at the party (around 10 people) saw the photos.
"The media said the pictures were all over," he said. "That's not true. I believe [people saw them in] texts and [in] person. I'd say less than 10 [people saw them]."
He said he knew this because only the people at the party (whose names he wouldn’t divulge) talked about the photos, and that none of his friends who hadn’t been at the party had seen the photos. He said that he himself was not at the party.
Another sophomore boy, who was also friends with Pott and the three boys arrested for sexual assault, confirmed the first boy’s estimate.
“It was pretty much limited to just a few people other than the ones at the party,” he said. “So around 10 sounds right.”
The source, however, said he wasn’t entirely sure it was limited to those at the party.
“It just kind of got around that this stuff happened between our group of friends,” he said “The people that saw the photos were probably most of the people at the party and then maybe a couple of the three guys’ close friends. I'm not 100 percent sure this is the truth but from everything I've heard [the arrested boys] tried to keep it a secret for the most part.”
A third boy who was also part of the circle of friends confirmed both the first boy’s and the second’s stories.
Sophomore Catherine Tang, a close friend of Pott’s, also thinks the circle of students who saw the photos was limited and didn’t go viral.
“I was really close friends with Audrie, and I haven't even seen it,” Tang said. “I know it was not all over Facebook and viral like how the news is saying. I know that it wasn’t that the whole school knew about it.”
Earlier, Pott family attorney Robert Allard told Yahoo! News of the purported viral spreading of photos taken of Pott while she was unconscious. “The whole school knew, it’s the worst way imaginable to be violated,” he said. “That’s something to be reserved for your husband. It’s savage. It’s just savage."
The Pott family is trying to push for stricter cyber-bullying laws. News reports around the nation cited Allard, claiming that the photos went “viral.”
The Falcon spoke to more than four dozen students, and none of them had seen the photos.
ASB president Sasan Sadaat agreed that the photos were far less widespread than originally claimed.
“I don’t think that SHS or the community is trying to sweep anything under the rug or neglect the topic of Audrie's loss,” Sadaat said. “I certainly don't think that the photos the media has been discussing or details of the events were in any way widespread and common knowledge to most SHS students. Most students like myself learned of the events after the news brought it up.”
The recent media coverage, however, has failed to reflect that.
“I think that sort of coverage tries to depict Saratoga as some ‘stuck in their own world, trying to avoid the subject’ institute,” Sadaat said.
In sharp contrast to that, Sadaat recalled the months spent grieving for Pott on campus: the “sea of teal” created by students and staff wearing Pott’s favorite color, the posters created by students and the overflowing flower donations.
“The overwhelming desire by the community and school to show their love and grief was moving — I think that says a lot more about our community than the ambiguous and inconclusive coverage the media has provided as of late,” Sadaat said.