A Rhode Island teen may soon see justice against a group of men that sexually assaulted her in December after a Facebook video of the incident was published.
Her recollection of the mid-December night is spotty, but the details she recalls are harrowing. The 16-year-old remembers feeling sick at a Dec. 20 party, after drinking and smoking. She recalls being pinned down on a bed by a man, who forcefully poured Hennessy down her throat. A brief memory of being naked in a shower came sometime after, with around "15 men," according to the Boston Globe, surrounding her and potentially snapping photos.
After another window of blank memory, she recalls being moved into a bedroom. There, the group of men sexually assaulted her. When the teen awoke to scratches on her thighs and vaginal pain, she was alone with one of her attackers. He dismissed her, and she fled the Providence, Rhode Island home.
The teen's mother had already been on the hunt for her daughter. Her panic was proven to be justified when her daughter's ex reached out to warn her that her child "was in trouble." He'd been receiving taunting texts from her cell, detailing the sexual assault she had just suffered at the hands of multiple men while unconscious.
The family wasted no time in contacting Providence police. The investigation moved forward at a slog as investigators struggled to untangle the events of the night. The teen was unconscious for the assault, and could only provide police with the first names—many of them fake—that the men had given her.
Detectives spent months combing through details and working toward identifying the men and what, exactly, they had done to her. Until June rolled around, and a video appeared on Facebook. In it, several men sexually assault an unconscious, naked girl on a bed while others watch. The teen's mother downloaded the video and provided it to investigators.
Providence Police Major David Lapatin described the Facebook video as "sickening." The footage was clear, however, and "more than enough to see the crime and identify the culprits." Soon, local detectives Koren Garcia and Jared Sherman had obtained warrants for eight men they'd identified as participants. Seven men had been apprehended by Wednesday, but one remains at large.
Detectives believe that one of the men raped the teen, likely the man she awoke with the next morning. The others participated "in other ways," according to Lapatin. "They’re all around watching it, in the room," he said.
Providence Police Chief Hugh T. Clements Jr. supported the teen in a statement Wednesday. "I commend her bravery, her courage, and her family for sticking by her," he said, noting the struggle that is yet to come. "It’s easy to say come forward, but if you’re the one who has to move forward on this case, make a statement, identify people, and put your right hand up in court and get grilled by a defense attorney or in this case, eight defense attorneys, it’s easy to say. So, I give her a lot of credit."
According to the Boston Globe, police also connected the family with sexual assault trauma experts from "Day One, Family Service of Rhode Island, and the state Department of Children Youth and Families."
Police have identified the alleged assailants, all of whom appear to be friends, thanks in large part to the Facebook video; 20-year-old Richard Tarell Chester has been charged with "first-degree sexual assault with a person who was mentally incapacitated, and conspiracy." Chester can be seen in the video raping the teen. He is being held without bail.
The other seven men are charged with "assault with intent to commit first-degree sexual assault on a person who was mentally incapacitated, and conspiracy," according to the Globe. The six additional men who have been apprehended are 20-year-old Carlos Chacon, 19-year-olds Luis Cabrera and Jose Vargas, Malcom Baptista, Luis N. Luna, and 25-year-old Erving Keith Colon.
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H/T Boston Globe