Last week Slate.com’s Emily Bazelon wrote a story about the Phoebe Prince that painted her as a troubled teen who was often depressed and suicidal prior to killing herself after being bullied by kids at school. Now, in response, Phoebe’s father Jeremy is speaking out for the first time.
He said his view of Phoebe “did not match the picture of her as distressed,” and that her overdosed in mid-November on the antipsychotic medication Seroquel was a “call for help,” not intentionally meant to kill her.
“That’s not the girl I saw when I was there for three weeks, by any means,” he tells Emily at Slate. “She was making snowmen, trying on her dress for the cotillion, asking ‘Daddy, does this go with this top?’ My wife and I had bought a house. Phoebe commandeered the cellar. She wanted me to partition it so she could decorate. It was that sort of Christmas.”
Phoebe had gone off her medication a few weeks before she died, though she was seeing a therapist who put her at no risk for suicide.
“What I didn’t see was Phoebe in school,” Jeremy continues. “Perhaps if I had, that would have made a big difference. It is the great tragedy of my life that I was not there.”
Jeremy had no idea that she was being bullied but has forgiven the kids who harassed her. Five of them now face charges, the most serious a civil rights violation with bodily injury which carries a ten year sentence.
“If someone is punished disproportionately to what they’ve done, that would be wrong,” he said. Prince recognizes, too, that the six kids played different roles. “It is far more complicated, I realize. There are levels of culpability among the kids. You want to see the law acknowledged, and reasonable penalties, but without making an example of them. You want to take their ages into account. There will always be younger ones who go with the flow and join in….If they confessed to the court and said they were sorry, I’d appeal to the court for total leniency. You can go two ways. You can look to the court for revenge or you can look for leniency. The latter path is mine.”