Video: Some tried as adults

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    >>> meredith.

    >>> some of the massachusetts teenagers arrested in the bullying case that led to the suicide of 15-year-old phoebe prince are in court today. nbc 's jeff rossen is in northampton, massachusetts with the latest. jeff, good morning to you.

    >> reporter: hey, meredith, good morning. the arraignment is set for 2:00 p.m . here today at the courthouse. there is a lot on the line, a lot at stake for these kids. most of the bullies are charged here as adults. which means, if convicted, even if they are not convicted, this case could stick with them forever, for the rest of their lives. also this morning, we're learning new information about why the bullying began. from the halls of south hadley high to the halls of justice, the nonstop bullying that officials say drove 15-year-old phoebe prince to suicide will play out today in criminal court . the alleged bullies , mostly girls, are charged with stalking and other felony counts. these two boys are charged with statutory rape . friends say both dated phoebe . one of them is the school 's star football player.

    >> she was new, she was pretty. she was dating the football player, and his girlfriend got jealous.

    >> reporter: that's one of the girls charged with bullying phoebe .

    >> yeah.

    >> reporter: so you think they did this all out of jealousy?

    >> i think this was out of jealousy.

    >> reporter: friends say the alleged bullies dubbed "the mean girls " didn't even hang out together before this.

    >> they weren't like in the same groups together.

    >> reporter: so the common denominator here was this romantic jealousy over phoebe , you think.

    >> yeah, the majority are good kids, they get decent grades, they play sports. they're nice. you know?

    >> reporter: not the kind of kids you think of as bullies .

    >> no, you wouldn't think of them as bullies .

    >> reporter: if convicted, the boys could spend years in priz be and would have to register as sex offenders for life. the girls face serious jail time, too. one of the girl's attorneys spoke with us late mobbed.

    >> this has been a very trying experience on my client and her family. i believe she's been subject to massive public disdain and reprimand when there has not been any significant details or evidence that has been actually publicly made known to anyone.

    >> reporter: but prosecutors say the evidence is so strong, the bullying so torturous, they can try these kids as adults -- a rare move that could haunt the alleged bullies forever.

    >> parents aren't going to set the limits if school aren't going to set the limits. then the courts are. the message is you can't get away with what you're doing.

    >> nobody made them bully phoebe . they just chose to do it. i think it should be a good thing that it follows them for the rest of their life. they did it to her. it's kind of their fault.

    >> reporter: we've learned the alleged bullies may not even show up for their own arraignments today. that's because their lawyers filed a separate motion where they don't have to come. only the lawyers have to show up. we're told the lawyers did it so these kids can remain and private and don't have to face the tv cameras. three will be arraigned today, three more on thursday. we'll learn a lot more about the evidence in this case.

    >> jeff rossen , thank you very much.

updated 4/6/2010 3:22:44 PM ET 2010-04-06T19:22:44

Three Massachusetts teenagers pleaded not guilty through their lawyers Tuesday in the bullying of a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after what prosecutors call months of threats and harassment.

The teens were not required to appear at the hearing in Hampshire Superior Court.

Sean Mulveyhill and Kayla Narey, both 17 and from South Hadley, and 18-year-old Austin Renaud, of Springfield, will remain free on personal recognizance on the condition that they stay away from the family of Phoebe Prince, the girl who died.

Mulveyhill and Renaud are charged with statutory rape. Mulveyhill and Narey are also charged with violation of civil rights resulting in bodily injury, criminal harassment and disturbance of a school assembly.

They are among nine teens charged in what prosecutors said was the "unrelenting" bullying of Prince, who hanged herself Jan. 14. Prince, who had emigrated from Ireland last summer, was a freshman at South Hadley High School.

Authorities said she was harassed and bullied after having a brief relationship with a popular boy. They have not identified the boy, but friends said it was Mulveyhill, who was a star football player at South Hadley High School.

Prosecutors said the bullying went on for three months, and included insults and threats made in school and through cell phone text messages. Phoebe killed herself Jan. 14 after a day of near-constant bullying, including being hit with a beverage container as she walked home from school.

Renaud's lawyer, Terrence Dunphy, would not comment on the relationship between Prince and Renaud or the statutory rape charge against him. He said lawyers have not received any information yet from prosecutors on what evidence they have.

"I can't get into the defense when I don't know what the evidence is," Dunphy said after the hearing.

A pretrial hearing for Mulveyhill, Narey and Renaud was scheduled for Sept. 15.

Three other teens — Ashley Longe, Flannery Mullins and Sharon Chanon Velazquez — are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Franklin-Hampshire Juvenile Court in Hadley.

Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel said school officials knew about the bullying, but none will face criminal charges.

"The actions of these students were primarily conducted on school grounds during school hours and while school was in session," the prosecutor said.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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