Archive for Wednesday, October 28, 2009

California town rattled by alleged gang rape of girl, 15

October 28, 2009


— The gang rape and beating of a 15-year-old girl on school grounds after her homecoming dance was horrific enough. But even more shocking, police say, was that up to two dozen people watched and did nothing to stop it.

The attack over the weekend rattled this crime-ridden city of 120,000 in the San Francisco Bay area, where one police official called it one of the most heinous crimes he has ever seen. Some students have already left the school in response to the attack.

“It’s not safe there at all,” said 16-year-old Jennie Steinberg, whose mother let her transfer out of the school Tuesday. “I’m not going back.”

The victim, a sophomore, had left the dance and was drinking alcohol in a school courtyard with a group when she was attacked, police said.

Two suspects were in custody Monday, but police said as many as seven ranging in age from 15 to mid-20s attacked the girl for more than two hours at a dimly lit area near benches Saturday night. As many as two dozen people saw the rape without notifying police.

Officers found the girl semiconscious and naked from the waist down near a picnic table. She remains hospitalized with nonlife-threatening injuries.

“This was a barbaric act. I still cannot get my head around the fact that numerous people either watched, walked away or participated in her assault,” Lt. Mark Gagan said Tuesday. “It’s one of the most disturbing crimes in my 15 years as a police officer.”

Gagan would not comment on rumors that observers took video of the attack on cell phones and may have posted it online.

Manuel Ortega, a 19-year-old former student, was arrested after trying to flee the scene. He is being held on $800,000 bail for investigation of rape and robbery. Attempts to reach Ortega at the jail Tuesday were unsuccessful.

A 15-year-old student also was booked late Monday on one count of sexual assault, Gagan said.

Late Tuesday, SWAT teams were preparing to make more arrests as police are also offering a $20,000 reward they hope will bring more people forward with any information.

Even though he said as many as two dozen people were witnesses, Gagan said officials are still trying to determine the exact number of people involved.

“I’m confident that the list will expand and at the end of our investigation we will get a clear indication of who was there and who did what,” Gagan said.

The attack occurred in a city that has dealt with its share of vicious crimes in recent years, and the school recently approved surveillance cameras after a series of violent crimes. In one case a few years back, a student was shot outside the school, ran inside and died in the then-principal’s hands, said Marin Trujillo, a spokesman for the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Richmond is an industrialized conclave near the San Francisco Bay that is known as one of the nation’s most dangerous cities. In 2007, Richmond had 47 homicides, and the murder rate led the state for cities with populations of 100,000 or more, surpassing Los Angeles and Oakland.

That number dropped to 27 in 2008 but has spiked to 44 killings so far this year, amid drug dealing and gang activity that has engulfed the town, Gagan said.

Gagan said the girl left the dance and was walking to meet her father for a ride home when a classmate invited her to join a group drinking in the courtyard. The girl had consumed a large amount of alcohol by the time the assault began, police said. Gagan said the girl’s father tried to call her cell phone, but no one answered.

Gagan said police received a tip about a possible assault on campus from a young woman who heard two males bragging about it. She was found nearly an hour after the dance, which more than 400 people attended, had ended.


jaywalker 8 years, 3 months ago

Castrate every one of 'em, and everyone that took video or pictures should get locked away for a while. Stomach wrenching and despicable.

BrianR 8 years, 3 months ago

"As many as two dozen people saw the rape without notifying police."

There is a special place in hell reserved for you. If I wrote what I really thought of these two dozen people, my post would be deleted.

kmat 8 years, 3 months ago

barry - you are a really sad individual. You have to bring partisan politics where they aren't needed. The gang raping of this girl in CA has nothing to do with Obama or Sotomayor. You really need to get a life.

acg 8 years, 3 months ago

Isn't that the truth kmat? I worry about posters like barry. They seem very unstable to me, always obsessing about Obama on every thread. If I were in the secret service, I would check him out. I can just see him sitting in his aging mother's basement, getting more and more paranoid and delusional, one hand furiously typing away about how the current president, who's been in office all of five minutes, has ruined the entire country and the other hand on his sad, tiny, wrinkled up little.....oh nevermind. He knows he's batsh*t nuts.

What happened to this poor girl is beyond words. I'd like to have a few moments alone with the rapists and the watchers and a Louisville slugger.

Shane Garrett 8 years, 3 months ago

Nancy Grace needs to be all over this one. Public outrage and justice needs to be the focus.

jonas_opines 8 years, 3 months ago

Does the school have an arbitration clause?

aemerson32 8 years, 3 months ago

This makes me sick... How could people rape someone and brag about it. I don't get it. The fact that about 24 people were just standing there, watching this happen to an impaired 15 year old, and not doing anything about it. Words can't describe how sick this makes me. This girl's life will be ruined, she probably won't be able to have children (naturally, at least), not to mention the psychological damage. Someone I know was raped at a very young age, and she has had fertility problems, and PTSD. I hate hearing about younger girls getting raped, because their body isn't mentally or physically ready for sex yet. I am so disgusted at what those people have done. I hope they get caught, and put in jail. If they don't, I want them to think about this... What if it was your little sister (or someone younger than you that you know or close to) who got raped that night. How would you feel? What would you do? Etc. Think about that.. Autumn

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