Five suspects are students at Cleveland High School, including two members of the basketball team Another is the 21-year-old son of a school board member. A few of the others have criminal records, from selling drugs to robbery and in one case, manslaughter. The suspects range in age from middle-schooler to a 27-year old.
Not only is the assault heinous, but the first question from the townspeople seems to concern the accused rather than the victim:
How could their young men be drawn into such an act? "It's just destroyed our community," said Sheila Harrison, 48, a hospital worker who says she knows several of the defendants. "These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives."
Not one word of sympathy for the young victim. Thankfully, she is not named and her whereabouts aren't given.
The allegations first came to light just after Thanksgiving when a child who knows the victim told a teacher she had seen a videotape of the attack on a cellphone, said Stacey Gatlin, a spokeswoman for the Cleveland Independent School District.''
The evidence of the gang rape were the pictures and videos taken by the perpetrators themselves.
Another note of sympathy for the victim:
"Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?" said Ms. Harrison, one of a handful of neighbors who would speak on the record. "How can you have an 11-year-old child missing down in the Quarters?"
It takes a village. Thank God the perpetrators had the presence of mind to record and pass around footage of this hideous crime. Otherwise it might never have come to light.
UPDATE: I just spoke to someone named Brian who answered the phone at 800-NYTIMES who told me the system was down and he couldn't log me into the Times online edition because there were technical difficulties across the board. When I told him I was already logged in, he was very surprised. Here is the link to the story.