Phoebe Prince: Resolution of bullying charges coming

Phoebe Prince. (AJC file)

Phoebe Prince. (AJC file)

The Boston Globe is reporting that five of the six teens charged in connection with the bullying of 15-year-old Phoebe Prince have agreed to admit to a misdemeanor.

Prince committed suicide last year, allegedly in despair over the bullying she encountered at South Hadley High School.

According to the Globe, prosecutors will drop more serious charges against the teens in exchange for the pleas.

The lesser charges will likely spark outrage from people angered by the torment Prince experienced from older classmates in her Massachusetts high school. The teen’s tragic death became a catalyst for anti-bullying laws and tougher policies in some places.

But a criminologist from Northeastern University told the Globe that the resolution was reasonable.

“The district attorney wanted to make a strong statement and draw a line in the sand, which she did,’’ said criminologist James Alan Fox. “But for so long, we ignored and tolerated bullying, And to say at this point, ‘OK, we’re going to throw the book at you’ is the wrong approach. This is the better outcome.’’

According to the Globe:

In a case that made international headlines, the teenagers accused of bullying 15-year-old Phoebe Prince will be allowed to admit to the lesser crime of harassment, according to a source with direct knowledge of the case.

The teenagers will probably receive probation, the source said, and the deals are subject to the approval of a judge.

The person, who was not authorized to comment publicly about the case, spoke on condition of anonymity.

Mulveyhill was charged with statutory rape, a charge that will also be dropped under the agreement, the source said.

Kayla Narey, Sharon Chanon Velázquez, Ashley Longe, Sean Mulveyhill, and Flannery Mullins, all of South Hadley, faced felony and misdemeanor charges, including civil rights violations causing bodily injury, criminal harassment, and disruption of a school assembly. Flannery and Velázquez also faced charges of stalking Prince.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

31 comments Add your comment


April 28th, 2011
6:20 am

No outcome in a case like this will satisfy everyone.

mad russian

April 28th, 2011
7:45 am

Nothing about this case is reasonable. The final outcome was that a child took her own life because of the cruel actions of a group of children whose parents failed to raise them properly. Now that they’ve gotten their plea deal, it sets the stage for the big civil suit that their going to have filed against them. Seven lives ruined because parents didn’t actually parent their children.


April 28th, 2011
8:15 am

Bullying. Here we go with more nanny-State nonsense. While tragic this young lady took her own life by her own hand.

“The district attorney wanted to make a strong statement and draw a line in the sand, which she did,’’

Really? Did she or did she waste the taxpayers money. I would suggest the latter.


April 28th, 2011
8:15 am

Every parent of a girl should read “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls” by Rachel Simmons.

Shawn D.

April 28th, 2011
8:25 am

It’s tragic, but from other reporting, she was already troubled before moving there and was an instigator of drama herself. I found this Slate article eye-opening…


April 28th, 2011
9:04 am

Nice Catch Shawn D. Seems our friendly neighborhood D.A. was aching to make a name for herself…typical, self-absorbed can do know wrong know it all.


April 28th, 2011
9:13 am

I am glad she prosecuted them. If parents will not parent, and schools will not enforce discipline, then let the system handle it. This is what we have come to.


April 28th, 2011
9:18 am

Let’s see, blame the victim and DA. Slate has such a reputation for telling the complete and unslanted truth. Interesting to think how all of you would have acted going to a new school in a new country and being subjected to way more than the routine teenage drama. With no one doing anything to stop the physical acts let alone the emotional and mental. The perpetrators and all their school mates, as well as the teachers and staff, knew exactly what was going on and let it go. Remember back to high school? Like many other teens this girl felt she could do nothing and not get away from her situation which at her age was all consuming. I would bet you my retirement the perpetrators did not start their bullying and abuse on this girl but had been this way all through school, getting progressively more bold and more destructive. Hope they and their parents get to pay big. And while there may be some financial compensation, the Prince’s lost their daughter and will never get to share the experiences the perpetrators and their parents will do.

USinUK is an idiot

April 28th, 2011
9:39 am

“According to the Globe, prosecutors will drop more serious charges against the teens in exchange for the pleas.”

Not that I’m on anyone’s side here, but how can bullies be charged for someone who killed themself?

“The teen’s tragic death became a catalyst for anti-bullying laws and tougher policies in some places.”

Who will enforce these “laws” when our own government is laying off people everyday? There will always be bullies and there will always be weak people.

The political correct crap needs to go and people need to stand up for themselves.


April 28th, 2011
10:14 am

I grew up in the 70s and 80s and was at times the bully and the bullied. If any of you can think back for a moment, how many of you reported bullying to your parents, or told the other child’s parents? How then can the parents be responsible for the actions of their children? If anything, the teachers and administrators are aware of the bullying because it’s most often done at school.

What we have to do as parents is continue to be teachers to our children. I teach my children to respect others’ differences and to have some intestinal fortitude so that the words and actions of others will not change how they think of themselves. It’s a relatively short period of their lives. They just need to get through it.

I’m sure these children had no idea that Phoebe would take her own life. Her frailty is not the result of their actions. She already had issues and didn’t know how to cope. I think anything would have sent her over the edge. Were they mean? Yes, but life is mean. As a mother, I would never want to lose my child for any reason, but why should they have to compensate the parents for the loss of their daughter? Her parents needed to do more to help her, like hospitalize her to get the help she needed. They probably had no idea she was suicidal either.


April 28th, 2011
10:21 am

@Bully(ied)- Times have changed. Kids would fight it out a long time ago and it was over with. These days- the bullying is waaaaay more vindictive, destructive, and long lingering. With the advent of social technology- the bullying never goes away. Life may be mean- but let’s just face it- groups of children who “mob” as it is called- can make life miserable for vulnerable children. The children got what they deserved and I hope they throw the book at any other children who go this far. Our children have loss their sense of boundary as they have no respect for adults, rules, or each other.


April 28th, 2011
10:25 am

Zero tolerance for bullying, period! It constantly amazes me how so many people “see the light” only after their own tush is on the line. This isn’t about making someone an example, it is about punishing mean-spirited, self centered, arrogant bullies who attacked, tormented, ridiculed and demeaned a fragile person for their own empowerment and enjoyment. Shame on them, their parents and the system for failing Phoebe Prince. They should be punished.


April 28th, 2011
10:33 am

Lyla Singfield

April 28th, 2011
10:46 am

I read the slate article. That is terrible. Phoebe was constantly crying out for help. Why would her mother leave her alone and go out of town? I don’t blame the Mother, but common sense. A young fifteen year old girl shouldn’t be left at home by herself.

The girls were wrong for what they said. The girls that had no real connection to any of the relationships should be charged.


April 28th, 2011
11:18 am

Such a horribly sad story.


April 28th, 2011
11:50 am

Karma is a b—h. That pack of brats got off easy but this is something that will follow them and hang around their necks like weight. Their sentence is much longer than people realize.

Archie@Arkham Asylum

April 28th, 2011
12:07 pm

I have been following this case since the beginning. As a self-identifying mental patient myself, I find it quite disturbing when I read accounts of this tragedy that seem to insinuate that because Phoebe (or Megan Meir) may have had pre-existing psychiatric conditions that that somehow this makes the actions of the perpetrators less reprehensible and therefore, less culpable. IMHO if anything, this makes the perpetrators more culpable. I am not naive enough to think we can stop bullying in the schools completely. Besides, when I was a teacher, I expected to be a teacher, not a “cop on the beat” trying to keep students from maiming each other. Of the cases of bullying that do come to our (as in school staff) attention, the existing anti-bullying ordinance in Georgia needs to be enforced to the letter, including expulsion/alternative school to those who are written up the third time. I was on the receiving end of bullying from 6th to 8th grade. I can assure you that I will never forget but for the sake of my sanity, I have had to learn to forgive. I do take comfort in the Law of Karma and its peculiar way of making sure that everyone gets their fair share of what’s coming to them.

Al in SoCal

April 28th, 2011
2:19 pm

Actions like extortion, statutory rape, assault, and harassment are crimes and finally people who act out are being treated like the criminals they are. I think the plea deals are a travesty, and should at least include some jail time for the worst offenders.

Ole Guy

April 28th, 2011
2:47 pm

Hey, I’ve got one helluvan idea. In order to preserve the self esteem of these rotten no-good sons-of-bees, why don’t we simply turn the tables on Phoebe’s memory. It was all her fault; she instigated the entire event. The poor kids whose psyces have been forever marred through this experience must be mollified. In fact, Phoebe’s family must be held accountable to the fullest extent of law.


Archie@Arkham Asylum

April 28th, 2011
5:16 pm

@justbrowsing and I quote: “Our children have lost their sense of boundaries as they have no respect for adults, rules, or each other.” I do believe that you have summed up the primary problem in one sentence! ( pardon my editing on two words). By the way, I have noticed that violence against teachers and administrators has increased alarmingly in recent years!


April 28th, 2011
6:53 pm

These brats didn’t offer Phoebe any relief, break, or a lighter sentence when they were harassing her before and after death. All she did was have a relationship with some psycho’s boyfriend…and note…HE was involved in the same relationship. They harassed her to death, but they catch a break by the DA?!!

They do not deserve any more consideration than they gave Phoebe or her family. They are not contrite…and never reached out to her family afterwards except to throw more pain at them through facebook.


April 29th, 2011
1:11 am

Was bullied myself and would wish it on no one else. Amazed at how teachers could manage to look the other way. I am glad for any traction this issue gets now and this case will certainly raise the awareness, but I am saddened that it takes a death to make it real. Plenty of blame and shame to go around…

Toto: exposing naked body scanners...

April 29th, 2011
1:12 am

UNHAPPY TSA customer. This customer got a little too much service…

Now, what was the blog topic? Bullying?

Ole Guy

April 29th, 2011
10:59 am

Time was when bullys got their spheroids smashed. This propensity toward “esteem preservation” has accomplished nothing but steer a generation/s toward the slippery slope of doom. With endless “second chances”, and total immunity from any real consequence, these damn kids are sure to become adults steeped in the belief that they can do pretty much any damn thing they please with absolutely no concern for others. Do we see this behavior, of both kids AND adults, manifest itself throughout society and throughout the courts and the penal systems?

While these singular events are, in and of themselves, tragic indeed, lets not lose sight of the fact that they surely impact issues of stupendous proportion.


April 29th, 2011
1:25 pm

I am amazed that so many people still think that bullying does not exist. It is prevalent in most schools. Some students are better at hiding it than others. Some students are not. I am saddened that a child committed suicide because everyone looked the other way. At one of the surrounding middle schools, a group of boys were bullying another student. This student was brave. He told his parents immediately. The parents were at the school and demanded the students be punished. When no action was taken, the parents went to the local law enforcement agency and things started moving rather quickly. The boys were questioned. Two of the students are serving time on probation for their actions. They also have many hours of community service appearances where they have to tell others what they did. These parents did not wait for it to stop…they took action. Every parent should be aware of what their children are dealing with each day in school.

Henry County Teacher

April 29th, 2011
7:35 pm

Bullying occurs daily at Walnut creek elementary. The admins KNOW of this and simply bully the victim and any parents that report it to the county. Several complaints have been filed by parents against these do nothing admin to the county.

Ole Guy

April 29th, 2011
9:20 pm

Henry Teach, you need to combine two entities on this one: FIRST the press, then the fed. I know there would most-certainly exist the potential for “career-altering” action here, however, your first-hand observation of just one of many many ailments within the educational camp points to the cancer which will surely (if it has not already) destroy the public ed community, and countless generations not yet born. As with many ailments within your profession, the cures can ONLY be initiated by you, the teacher corps. Rather than cower (nothing personal) in the corner of anonimity, you, the corps, needs to “dare to tread. While I see many seemingly sanctimonious noms de plume (For the children, What’s best for…, etc), these all ring hollow and somewhat hypocritical when none of the authors seem willing to “take the issue to the mat”. Think about it, Teach.


April 29th, 2011
11:34 pm

@ Henry County Teacher: the problem is that teachers are afraid to speak up for themselves, or others, as they fear for their jobs, but when the rubber meets the road, that teacher needs to preserve their career and file a grievance if need be. All teachers should file a grievance for ANY issue they feel is a problem. Enough grievances against any administrator- especially in Henry County- could draw attention towards abuse. The abuse is not illegal, unless it is because they belong to a protected class. Teachers have to speak up or it keeps going.

end bullying

April 30th, 2011
11:54 am

there are some teachers that believe bullying is “just part of growing up,” to which i would counter that children are grouped together with very little hope of establishing self-worth without our help. sure, when we grow up we get to choose where and with whom we socialize; kids in school don’t have this luxury, so it is up to teachers to protect them. i wish we could help students establish their social networking lives on the internet as well as we help them with live social interactions.

Toto: exposing naked body scanners...

May 1st, 2011
12:38 am

Former Miss USA’s cries for protection from TSA have been heard…

Archie@Arkham Asylum

May 2nd, 2011
1:09 pm

Phoebe Prince (1994-2010) Rest in peace, kid and may perpetual light shine upon you! Also, rest assured that you have not died in vain and there are people who will not forget!