herald

Wednesday 15 August 2018

‘Mean girls’ accused over Phoebe’s death

Three teenage girls stand accused of bullying Irish schoolgirl Phoebe Prince to death in the US.

The 15-year-old took her own life after a relentless campaign of bullying soon after her family moved to the US.

Now, 16-year-old girls Ashley Longe, Sharon Chanon Velazquez and Flannery Mullins, have appeared in a court in Massachusetts over Phoebe's shocking death.

The "mean girls" accused are charged with stalking and harassing the schoolgirl.

They are among a group of six teenagers charged with bullying Phoebe.

Phoebe was called an "Irish wh**e" and "stupid sl*t" before she hanged herself at the family home, in a case that has shocked America.

Prosecutors said they will be calling up to 50 witnesses in their case against the three accused, who are expected to stand trial next January.

Phoebe hanged herself at her home in South Hadley in January.

Her family had moved to the States from Ireland a short time earlier.

In court yesterday, attorneys for the three accused indicated they will try to have the indictments thrown out because of insufficient evidence.

The girls were all aged 16 when they were charged as youthful offenders with the violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury.

Longe is charged with yelling crude comments, such as "Irish wh**e" and "stupid sl*t", at Phoebe in the school library a few hours before her suicide.

Mullins and Chanon Velazquez are also charged with stalking. All three have pleaded not guilty.

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The court records accuse Mullins of threatening to beat up Phoebe, cornering her in a school bathroom, repeatedly calling her an "Irish sl*t" and posting demeaning comments about her on Facebook.

Chanon Velazquez was described by prosecutors as showing "a pattern of assaultive conduct" that included crude insults and threats of violence, including one for which she served a one-day school suspension.

According to prosecutors, the three girls were angry over Phoebe's brief relationship with Austin Renaud -- an on-off boyfriend of Mullins.

Renaud and another teenager, Sean Mulveyhill, face statutory rape charges for allegedly having sexual contact with Phoebe. They have pleaded not guilty.

Mulveyhill and his ex-girlfriend, Kayla Narey, also face the same civil rights charge levied against Longe, Velazquez and Mullins.

Under American law, if the teenagers had been charged under delinquency laws and not as youthful offenders, their identities would have remained confidential.

csheehy@herald.ie

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