Ashley Billasano, 18, took her life last week
She reportedly sent more than 140 tweets, alleging years of abuse
Billasano's mother says law enforcement failed her daughter
The case against Billasano's alleged abuser remains open and active, authorities say
The mother of a Texas teen who killed herself after reportedly sending more than 140 tweets detailing years of sexual abuse spoke out on Tuesday, faulting law enforcement for failing her daughter.
Before 18-year-old Ashley Billasano took her life last week, she poured her heart out on Twitter.
She reportedly sent 144 messages in six hours, touching on allegations of sexual abuse, the pain it caused and her long struggle for justice. According to one tweet, the final straw for Billasano was a phone call telling her it was unlikely her alleged abuser would ever be prosecuted, according to the Houston Chronicle.
By Tuesday, Billasano’s Twitter messages had been removed.
“She gave up. She felt like nothing was ever going to happen, nobody was ever going to believe her,” Billasano’s mother, Tiffany Ruiz Leskinen, told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin.
“It was almost as if they were treating her like she was the one under investigation instead of her being the victim. She felt like they were really insensitive to what had gone on,” she said, referring to officials working the case. “They say that they did what they could to protect her, but they let her back into the home where she was abused.”
Billasano was not living with her mother at the time of her death.
However, Dayna Blazey, assistant district attorney at the Travis County district attorney’s office, defended authorities’ handling of the investigation. She told CNN’s Baldwin that she was not aware of anyone in her jurisdiction telling Billasano a criminal case was not being pursued.
“The status of the case is that it’s still open; it’s still pending. At this point, what we have to do is we have to go back and we have to look at the evidence that we have in this case, in light of knowing that Ashley is not going to be available to testify,” Blazey said. “Our hearts go out to Ashley and her family.”
Similarly, Texas Child and Protective Services said that it was looking into Billasano’s case.
“Earlier this year, Child Protective Services (CPS) conducted a thorough, five-month investigation, interviewing 11 individuals who we believed might have had relevant information to share with us. As a result of that investigation, we were unable to confirm that abuse had occurred,” spokesman Patrick Crimmins said in a statement.
“However, because of Ashley’s death, we are taking a second look at the case and our focus will be to ensure that any remaining children in the household are free from abuse,” he said, confirming that her death was a suicide.
On Tuesday, Billasano’s mother described her daughter as beautiful, outgoing and loving.
“She was really accepting and driven. She knew what she wanted out of life,” said Ruiz Leskinen.
She said her daughter had dealt with bullying and bulimia and was sexually abused for years by a man who “was supposed to be the very one to protect her.” Before her torrent of tweets, Billasano had struggled to talk about the abuse, her mother said, in part because she feared no one would believe her.
Shortly before killing herself, Billasano addressed a message to anyone paying attention to her Twitter account, according to the Houston Chronicle.
“That’s the story of how I came to be who I am,” she wrote, the paper reported. “Well, the condensed version. I’d love to hear what you have to say. But I won’t be around.”