Richmond, California– known for the movie “Coach Carter.” In the last few years, Richmond has been known for a brutal gang rape of a high school sophomore girl outside their Homecoming dance in 2009 that could come from a bad movie or an episode of a crime drama on network TV.
Details- On October 24,2009 at the conclusion of the homecoming dance, a classmate invited the victim to join a group of males ages ranging from 15 to mid-20’s who were drinking alcohol in a dark courtyard on the side of campus. The female victim drank a large amount of brandy, and was propositioned for sex by the alleged attackers. When the victim refused, she was placed on a nearby cement bench and continuously beaten and raped for 2½ hours, at times with a ‘foreign object’. A local resident heard of the attack from her boyfriend and immediately contacted the police. The victim was found unconscious under a picnic table and was air-lifted to a hospital in critical condition. She was released from the hospital on Wednesday, October 28.
Salvador Rodriguez, a bystander who witnessed the events describes the assault:
“They were kicking her in her head and they were beating her up, robbing her and ripping her clothes off; it’s something you can’t get out your mind. I saw people, like, dehumanizing her; I saw some pretty crazy stuff. She was pretty quiet; I thought she was like dead for a minute but then I saw her moving around. I feel like I could have done something but I don’t feel like I have any responsibility for anything that happened.”
- Witnesses are believed to have recorded video footage of the attack using camera-equipped mobile phones, but local police have not been able to obtain the recordings. At least two dozen bystanders watched the assault without calling 911 to report it
Arrests- Seven male suspects had been arrested in connection with the case. One of the initial suspects was subsequently released without charge due to lack of evidence.This initial suspect has since claimed that he was merely a witness present at the scene, and that his intent was to help the victim including offering her his shirt. However, he said that he did not contact authorities because he lacked a cell phone and was afraid of retaliation for “snitching”.The remaining suspects range in age from 15 to 21.Police stated that their investigations are ongoing, and that they were looking for additional people in relation to the crime. Subsequently, a 43-year-old male was arrested in relation to the events.
The Suspects (most of whom pled guilty, on trial, or awaiting trial)
Those who are awaiting trial are innocent until proven guilty.
Manuel Ortega, who was an adult at the time of the crime and the most heavily-charged of the six defendants, pleaded guilty to all charges against him on September 6, accepting a 32-year sentence and avoiding possible life in prison.He was convicted of rape in concert, rape by a foreign object in concert, forced oral copulation in concert resulting in great bodily injury, and robbery. Ortega was described by authorities as an initiator in the rape, with witnesses alleging he ripped off the girl’s clothes, punched and kicked her in the head, sexually assaulted her and encouraged others to do the same. On October 19, 2012, Ortega was sentenced to 32 years in prison.
Ari Morales, 19-year-old From San Pablo, was sentenced to 27 years in prison On January 11, 2013. His plea deal was for charges of rape in concert, penetration with a foreign object. According to police, Morales, then 16, penetrated the victim with a foreign object and stood by while she was beaten and raped by accomplices in a darkened courtyard at Richmond High the night of Oct. 24, 2009. object and forced oral copulation in concert.
Marcelles Peter, 17-year-old (At the time of his arrest) from Pinole, was charged as an adult with rape by a foreign object while acting in concert. His trial began yesterday, a double-jury trial with defendant Jose Montano.
(Double jury trial was set because some evidence relevant with 1 defendant may not be relevant with the other defendant including DNA evidence taken from the victim.)
Jose Montano, 18-year-old (At the time of his arrest) from Richmond, who was a classmate at Richmond High, was also booked on felony charges of rape, rape in concert with force, and penetration with a foreign object. His trial began today, a double-jury trial with Marcelles Peter.
Cody Ray Smith, 15-year-old (at the time of his arrest) from San Pablo was charged as an adult with rape with a foreign object while acting in concert for his role. Cody is suspected to have known the victim. He was a Richmond High student until 2007, when he dropped out in his Jr year.
John Crane, Jr., 46-year-old (At the time of arrest) from Richmond, the oldest of all the defendants. He was charged with rape in concert and the special allegation that he personally penetrated the victim, an allegation that makes him eligible for a life sentence.
Elvis Torrentes, 21-year-old (At the time of arrest) from Richmond. Torrentes has been charged with rape by a foreign object of a person unable to resist due to intoxication, rape by a foreign object while acting in concert and rape while acting in concert.
All defendants except for Torrentes faced enhancements that could give them life in prison.
According to police, as many as 10 people robbed, beat and raped the victim for two and a half hours in a secluded area of the campus beginning at about 9:30 p.m. while as many as a dozen others stood by and watched.
Richmond resident Margarita Vargas made a call to 9-1-1 just before midnight that night.
Following the rape, hundreds gathered in a ceremony to support the victim. The school district set up a fund for the victim.
Brittney Wiley, 15, described the event as, “spiritual, enlightening, soothing, and joyful.” Wiley said she imagines her friend, the girl for whom all these people came together, looking around and saying: “Are you serious? You guys did all this for me?”
- The victim received a cash settlement from the West Contra Costa School District of 4 Million dollars, Richmond made huge improvements with security and lighting following the rape, and there were rape awareness classes given at the school to prevent this from happening again.
Why am I writing this 4 years after the rape?
- Simply put- After the Steubenville Big Rape Case came out, and received lots of publicity, I remembered this case and how similar it is. What are the similarities?
- A gathering with teenagers, underage drinking and no adults
- People watched and did nothing to stop it. Most of the people in this case said nothing because they didn’t want to be labeled as “snitches.”
- Video taken. Although it’s unknown in this case if the video was ever recovered, witnesses said there was video and pictures taken.
- The brutality. Both cases had alot of brutality. With Richmond, it was violence, robbery, penetration and the victim spent days in the hospital. Steubenville, it was mental. The tweets, pictures, text messages, and video put out right after the rape.
- Trial began this week for 2 of the suspects. http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/crime-law/richmond-gang-rape-defendants-face-double-jury-tri/nX99d/
Sources- KTVU (Channel 2 Oakland, Ca) Richmond Confidential, http://abclocal.go.com (ABC San Fransisco), Wikipedia