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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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January 17th, 2014
06:42 PM ET

Online avengers seek justice for sexual assault and cyber bully victims

(CNN) - From Steubenville to Maryville, Canada to California, all too often there is news of sexual assault allegations that lead to the alleged victims being victimized all over again by cyber bullies.

The parents of a California teenager who committed suicide a week after her assault have found a way to channel their grief into action. Their daughter Audrie Pott was only 15 when a night of drinking led to her being assaulted by three boys. To make matters worse, pictures of Audrie with lewd comments scrawled on her body were spread around in text messages.

She was hounded at school and on social media and eventually hanged herself.

The boys, who admitted to taking part in the assault, served a maximum of 45 days in a juvenile hall. Pott's parents are now pushing for "Audrie's law", which calls for stricter sex crime punishments for juvenile offenders in California. They're also suing the three teenagers involved in the assault, blaming them for Audrie's suicide.

Cases like this one have also sparked a separate movement, where unknown online vigilantes go after sex assault suspects and attempt to punish them in ways that the law can't – by publicly shaming them or hacking their social media accounts.

This movement is closely examined a new New York Times Magazine article "The Online Avengers", which asks whether some of these anti-bullying activists risk becoming bullies themselves.

Author and New York Times contributor Emily Bazelon got to know some of these activists, learning a lot about what makes them tick. She joined CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" to share their story.

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