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     In the cases that make the news, the stories are often murky and much debated. The hazy memories usually involve underage drinking, bad decisions, sexual acts, photos snapped and shared.

    What's becoming clear in some recent high-profile sexual assault cases are the grave and lasting consequences for people on both sides of the camera.

    It's a double-edged sword, experts said. Sharing images of rape or assault through text messages or social media re-traumatizes the victim. But it also provides evidence that could be crucial to building a criminal prosecution. Depending on the state, sexually explicit images of minors might be considered child pornography.

    "One of the issues that's always part of a criminal case is the defendant's state of mind," CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin said. "Social media gives you an unusually direct picture of what's inside a defendant's head."

    Related: When bullying goes high-tech

    As evidence, however, it's often too little, too late. Two teens recently committed suicide after their alleged assaults were photographed and shared with others. Even if the photos and tweets lead to convictions, their existence does more harm than good for survivors.

    "One of the reasons rape is so damaging is because it leaves you feeling a complete lack of control over your body," said Jaclyn Friedman, a rape survivor and author of "What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl's Shame-Free Guide to Sex & Safety."

    Shared images of assault can reinforce feelings of helplessness and vulnerability, she said; the victim has no control over who sees them or how far they go. Backlash toward the victim can deter others from reporting sexual assault.

    "Nothing ever goes away on the Internet, so the knowledge -- that one way or another, the attack will be with you forever -- can be a constant source of trauma," she said.

    Or worse.The family of 15-year-old Audrie Pott says she committed suicide in September after learning that someone shared a photo of her being sexually assaulted at a house party. Three teen boys were arrested last week in connection with the case, Santa Clara Sheriff's Office spokesman Jose Cardoza said. Formal charges have not been filed but they face two felony and one misdemeanor charge, he said. One of the felonies has to do with "distribution of harmful matter of a victim," he said. The other charges are related to sexual battery.

    After learning that photos of the alleged rape had been shared with others, Pott wrote in an online post that her life was ruined. In a press conference Monday, Pott's mother read aloud posts from her daughter's Facebook page:
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