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Richmond, California, is one of the most crime-ridden towns in the United States. Nevertheless, even Richmond residents were horrified by the 2009 gang rape of a 16-year-old girl outside Richmond High School’s homecoming dance. Almost four years after the brutal rape, justice might finally be served as two of the seven men arrested for the assault are finally going to trial.
The girl’s ordeal began when, bored and hot, she left a homecoming dance and walked outside to call her father for a ride home. What happened instead was that she ran into a male classmate who asked her if she wanted to come “party” with him and his friends. They plied her with alcohol – to the point at which her blood alcohol limit reached .35, four times the legal limit — and she lost consciousness. While the girl was unconscious, up to twenty men took turns raping and abusing her.
The current trial is against 22-year-old Jose Montano and 20-year-old Marcelles Peter. John Cope, the prosecutor, opened the trial by describing a horrific attack against the girl. During the roughly two hours she was under the defendants’ control, she was raped, punched, kicked, dragged around, urinated upon, and assaulted with objects such as a walkie-talkie. In addition, one of the attackers answered the girl’s cell phone when her father called her and told him that his daughter was performing well sexually.
Montano’s and Peter’s attorneys, however, claim that, no matter how horrific the attack on the girl was, their clients are not responsible. Thus, while Montano’s DNA was on a condom and can of alcohol found at the scene, his DNA was not found on (or in) the victim. Trial watchers also anticipate that the defense attorneys will make much of the fact that the girl – who will testify – was unconscious and therefore is unable to identify the men who raped and assaulted her.
Of the originals seven defendants, two men, Manuel Ortega and Ari Morales, have already agreed to plea deals that have sent them to prison for 32 years and 27 years, respectively. A third, unnamed, defendant has already been dismissed from the case. Two other men, John Crane and Elvis Torrentes, still await trial. If convicted, both Montano and Peter can get life imprisonment.