At least four males who streamed their sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl live on Facebook lured the acquaintance into a basement, slapped her several times and threatened to have a dog attack her if she tried to flee, Cook County prosecutors alleged Tuesday.
A 14-year-old boy, the first of two to be charged so far, told the victim she could “have sex the easy way or the hard way,” Assistant State’s Attorney Maha Gardner said in court.
Judge Patricia Mendoza, assigned to the Juvenile Division, ordered Tuesday that a 15-year-old boy be held in custody, calling the gang rape “one of the most serious cases that I have seen.” She also said she decided to detain the eighth-grader for his own safety, noting her concern that he was at risk because of the national publicity the case has drawn.
He marks the second teen in as many days to be ordered held at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center while awaiting trial.
Each suspect faces 10 felony counts of aggravated sexual assault, manufacturing of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography.
Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago police spokesman, appealed to the families of the remaining suspects “to do the right thing for this young girl and bring them in to detectives to be questioned.”
“One by one, we are building criminal cases against these young men to seek justice, and our work will not stop until all are brought forward,” Guglielmi said in an email.
Gardner said the two boys charged so far, both identified from stills of the video, admitted to others that they were involved in the sexual assault of the girl. Each also video-recorded the sexual assault, she said. The 14-year-old boy was captured on the video sexually assaulting the girl, according to the prosecutor.
“Both videotaped these egregious actions,” Gardner said. “They didn’t stop there. They put them up on Facebook for the world to see.”
“A life wasn’t lost. … But this is worse for the young woman,” she said.
The 15-year-old boy’s lawyer, assistant public defender Liliana Dago, questioned that prosecutors had proven probable cause, particularly on the child pornography charges. She also said that most of the sex acts were carried out by the 14-year-old.
In ordering the 15-year-old held in custody, the judge said he bore responsibility for the assault as well.
“The very nature that he’s in the video … one can assume he was manufacturing child pornography,” Mendoza said.
The 15-year-old boy turned himself in Monday at the Ogden District police station accompanied by his mother, Guglielmi said.
Police are also trying to identify others who took part in the assault, officials said, but the investigation has been slowed by the trauma experienced by the girl.
One of the suspects livestreamed the assault on Facebook Live, and authorities have said that as many as 40 people saw it. None called police, a point that enraged Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
“We’ve seen a couple acts in this city now in the last few months involving social media, and it just disgusts me that people could look at those videos and not pick up the phone and dial 911,” Johnson said at a news conference on Sunday. “It makes you wonder where are we going, what are we doing as a society?”
The attack was at least the fourth Chicago crime caught on Facebook Live since the end of October.
The girl had stayed over with family the evening of March 18 and gone to church with them the next day, then was dropped off near home before disappearing.
She was found two days later walking down the street near her home.
The girl was reunited with her mother and taken to a hospital, where she was examined for injuries, a family member later told the Tribune.
As news of the attack spread, people began ringing the family’s doorbell and coming around the house in a menacing way, the girl’s mother has told the Tribune, and police described a campaign of social media bullying against her.
The taunts prompted authorities to relocate her family to another home, described by Guglielmi as “a safe place.”
Police said that authorities have looked into possible charges against those who watched the video and bullied the girl but said that making charges stick appears to be a complicated task.
Guglielmi said Facebook has told authorities it’s not possible to identify who is watching a video on the platform. And police said the bullying hasn’t risen to the level of criminal conduct.