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Thread: Richmond rape victim's family: 'Please do not let this happen again'

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    Richmond rape victim's family: 'Please do not let this happen again'

    Richmond rape victim's family: 'Please do not let this happen again'
    By Matthias Gafni Bay Area News Group
    11/01/2009 09:11:06 AM PST


    The parents of the 15-year-old girl gang-raped after a Richmond High School homecoming dance spoke Saturday, pleading for people to "be courageous in speaking the truth and in holding people accountable.''

    The family's pastor read a prepared statement during a community meeting in the school's auditorium Saturday morning. "Please do not respond to this tragic event by promoting hatred or by causing more pain. We have had enough violence already in this place. If you need to express your outrage, please channel your anger into positive action," the girl's family wrote. "Work toward changing the atmosphere in our schools and in this community so that this kind of thing never happens again."

    Pastor Jim Wheeler, of First Presbyterian Church of Richmond, shared the comments with a couple hundred concerned parents and community members who congregated to discuss safety and available health and safety programs.

    Five people are being held in connection with the Oct. 24 on-campus rape that has shocked Richmond and the nation, although police believe many more watched or participated in the assault. "(The parents) really wanted to change what was happening and they didn't want it to be violent," said Wheeler in an interview at the high school courtyard. "There's been a lot said out there in the media and blogs " some pretty ignorant statements. They just don't want to promote and keep that kind of thing going. They especially
    want changes in the school's atmosphere."

    As for the girl's well-being, Wheeler was at a loss for words. "I can't answer that," he said. "Physically, there's been an amazing healing, but this is not something that you just heal from right away. I'm amazed, but heartbroken at the kind of road she has ahead of her."

    Wheeler said the girl may make her own statement next week, and for now the family wants its privacy. He's not surprised at the nationwide media attention and public outrage sparked by the case. "I think people are just overwhelmed with the level of violence and the magnitude of the event. A lot of people want to help, but they're just in shock," he said. "In particular, people were standing around and watching. We don't know what to make of that."

    Standing in the back of the auditorium Saturday wearing her gray-and-red Richmond High Oilers sweatshirt was senior class President Gina Saechae. The 16-year-old has been a regular media interviewee, appearing on CNN and other networks, often defending her school. "We work really hard here. " I just feel we're really trying to achieve and overcome everything and people are trying to put us down," Saechae said. "I still feel safe on campus. " We're not dangerous. There are not people on campus with guns."

    Saechae and other student leaders have organized a candlelight vigil for Tuesday with student speakers and performers to show support for the victim. Students are also wearing blue ribbons in a show of support.

    Saturday's events started with a vigil in front of the school. Josh Sanchez, a 15-year-old sophomore at Middle College High School in Richmond, attended to offer his support. He shook his head when asked about the students who watched the rape without reporting it. "It's probably peer pressure," he said. "People are worried. Maybe they feel that they don't want to be the only one stepping up and then they would be made fun of or ridiculed."

    Following the vigil, West Contra Costa Unified School District board member Antonio Medrano led a panel discussion with agencies offering assistance with rape prevention, domestic violence, mental health, gang prevention and gun violence programs. "I'm horrified about this event," Medrano said. "I'm hoping this community will hear what these groups have to offer."

    Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner spoke briefly to the gathering, announcing her office has jump-started the permit process to build the new fence around the campus. "This kind of gang rape is certainly not normal," she said. "It rises to our attention how we really need to address the heart of the issues."

    She said economic stresses, foreclosures and other combinations may have exacerbated the horrific crime. Rosalinda Quintero, a mother of a Richmond High sophomore, was one of many Spanish-speaking people in attendance. "The schools really aren't to blame, because in all schools there are dangers," she said through an interpreter. "I heard this school has had a bad reputation, but I don't feel that way."

    Halfway through Saturday's program almost 20 parents had signed up to volunteer at the high school.

    Linda Baker, mother of two Richmond High students, hoped volunteers could increase security to ensure after school activities survive. "I know the victim personally," Baker said, "and she's a beautiful person and my daughters love her."

    http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_136901...ce=most_viewed


    Richmond School Rape
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/rich...omecoming-rape
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    No parents at Richmond dance where girl raped
    By Karl Fischer and Todd Perlman - Contra Costa Times
    11/01/2009 10:00:57 AM PST


    The world surrounding Richmond High School teemed with outrage after last weekend's gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside her homecoming dance, and those in charge still don't know where to point the finger. But they did notice one thing about the Oct. 24 dance. "We had no parents at this event," Richmond High Principal Julio Franco said.

    The same night, less than a quarter-mile away, Salesian High School held its homecoming dance without incident, and with parents in attendance. Same for El Cerrito High School, which two nights earlier fielded 10 volunteers along with the usual complement of administrators, teachers and police.

    Richmond High struggles perennially to engage its families, most of them residents of diverse but poor flatland neighborhoods in San Pablo, unincorporated North Richmond and parts of Central Richmond. Three years ago, a principal even tried a doorbell campaign.

    It remains difficult to sustain parental commitment, Franco admitted. "That's one of the things we're working on, last year and this year, is trying to get more parents to come to our events," he said.

    Franco said many Richmond High parents usually cannot attend evening events for their high schoolers because they have other kids at home and no one to watch them. A newsletter mailed to parents a few weeks ago outlined upcoming events, but no parents volunteered. "We welcome parents at any time, but sometimes they cannot come," he said. "That's why we make sure we have officers and site supervisors and as many teachers as we can get."

    Perimeter checks?

    At the homecoming dance in the school's gymnasium were six teachers who volunteered to chaperon. There also were two vice principals and two site supervisors. In addition, four Richmond police officers — school-resource officers who work on the city's campuses daily — spent most of the night at the dance on overtime.

    The police, Franco said, help provide security. "One of the assumptions we make is that they do the perimeter checks," he added, meaning they patrol around the school.

    Nobody told the police, apparently. "Obviously, in this case there has been miscommunication between the (West Contra Costa) school district and the Police Department regarding what role school-resource officers play at these events," Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus said. "As far as patrolling the campus, providing perimeter security, that sort of thing ... that's not what they're there to do."

    The police kept an eye on the gym and the parking lot to deter fights, alcohol consumption and similar disruptions, Magnus said. They do not provide after-hours security for the entire campus, which spans multiple city blocks. That is the school district's responsibility, he said.

    The distinction matters because a group attacked the victim in a courtyard across campus as music played and about 250 students danced in the gym. And some of the suspects did not attend — the school allowed only students, and two of those arrested were older than school age.

    The victim, a student, left the dance about 9:30 p.m. Before she called for a ride home, a classmate called her over to the poorly lit courtyard, where a group of young people were hanging out and drinking alcohol.

    The girl drank a large amount of brandy quickly and soon collapsed; while helpless, she fell victim to repeated rape, beatings and robbery at the hands of several people. Richmond police by Friday had arrested six suspects, four of whom prosecutors charged.

    'We have to be the people'

    "Cameras and gates will not solve the problem. You've got to have a parent presence. You can't expect a bankrupt district to have the people to send. We have to be the people," said Michele Jawad, a longtime parent volunteer in El Cerrito schools and a member of the school district's safety committee.

    Jawad helped organize the volunteers at El Cerrito High's homecoming dance, along with 24 volunteers at the football game the next day.  "We just have to have more parents, grandparents, retired people, neighbors involved. They have to step up for the kids. There's no excuse. If kids don't have parents (available), then others should be willing to step in," Jawad said. "The days of sending kids to school and forgetting about them are gone."

    Much planning goes into security for school dances and sporting events at East Bay campuses. At Northgate High School in Walnut Creek, for example, administrators used random Breathalyzer testing to curtail student drinking at this year's homecoming dance.

    Most schools work closely with local police to prepare. Individual campus administrations generally work independently from their school districts to craft safety plans tailored for their sites. Some schools, such as Liberty High School in Brentwood and Hercules Middle/High School, employ chaperon-to-student ratios as guides for planning dance security.

    Calls, escorts

    Such high schools as Concord and College Park call the parents of students who don't show up for a dance for which they purchased tickets. No students may leave until the dance ends without calling their parents. Those who walk to their cars in the parking lot are escorted.

    Concord High doesn't use parent chaperones, in part because students don't want them. But attendees are carefully monitored and may not come or go without permission, Principal Gary McAdam said. "It's a school event," added Barbara Oaks, principal at College Park in Pleasant Hill. "Attendance, if you say you're going to be here, is required. It's very labor intensive, but these things are nighttime events that you have to be very careful about. We want everybody to be safe and have a good time. It's very unfortunate that what happened (in Richmond) happened."

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_1...ce=most_viewed


    What's Race Got to Do With It?"
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/rich...nclick_check=1

    Richmond High gang rape, lack of action from onlookers outrages community
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/rich...pe/ci_13651646


    Fisher: Richmond rape case points to cultural lack of respect for women
    http://www.contracostatimes.com/ci_13669616

    They laughed. They snapped pictures. For two hours, they took turns beating and raping a drunk, defenseless girl. Fine Saturday night fun.

    The details of the brutal gang rape outside the Richmond High School homecoming dance last weekend chill my soul. The 15-year-old was lured to a "party" by a "friend," only to find out she was to be the evening's entertainment. Dozens of people wandered by and thought it was funny.

    I wonder what sort of twisted young people would get their kicks out of participating in such an attack. I wonder what kind of callous young people would stand by and watch, or see what was going on and hurry away but never try to stop it or even call police. Surely they must have precious women in their lives. Mothers, sisters, grandmothers. Yet no one cared what happened to the victim, who had to be airlifted to a hospital in critical condition. How could young people be so cruel and inhuman?

    One of the young women who called the cops as soon as they heard about the attack tried to offer an explanation: "They think it's cool," she told our reporter. "They weren't raised to respect girls."

    They weren't raised to respect girls.

    Is that it?

    Striving for sexy

    We do not, as a society, respect girls. We teach them from birth that sexy is cute, sexy is beautiful, sexy is the way to get attention. From baby shirts that say "Hot Chick" to preschool dance classes where little girls learn to bump and grind, there's no escaping it. By the time they're in middle school, girls know that sexy gets more attention from boys than brainy or athletic or tough.

    Parents of daughters struggle with this. We want our girls to be strong and independent, but above all we want them to be safe. So we warn them about drinking and try to tamp down the latest tramp fashion. "You're not going out dressed like that!" we say, knowing that all the girls at the party will be dressed exactly like that.

    But I think it's even harder for parents of boys. How do you raise a son to be caring and responsible in a culture that too often portrays women as whores and men as warriors and thugs? Movies and video games turn killing into harmless fun. The men carry guns and slap their women around. And the women keep coming back for more.

    Raised on porn

    To make matters worse, as soon as boys are old enough to surf the Net they have access to graphic, violent, hard-core pornography. I cringe to think how those images shape their views of women. Do real girls want to be degraded and tortured like that? It's not a question boys can easily ask their fathers, if their fathers are even around.

    Experts say rape isn't a sex act; it's an act of violence. But boys who grow up exposed to massive doses of sex and violence may have trouble distinguishing between the two.

    As shocking as the brutality of the Richmond attack was, it's the pack mentality that appalls me. I felt the same way about the 2007 De Anza College baseball team party, where guys took turns having sex with a drunk high school kid while others cheered. Three young women finally rescued her.

    Is it a coincidence that in both cases, the girls had to blow the whistle? Maybe the gawking boys were afraid of being uncool.

    Or perhaps, after years of conditioning, the boys couldn't tell the difference between a porn video and a real crime against a real human being.
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    School moves to tighten security after gang rape
    By Terry Collins, Associated Press Writer 1 hr 10 mins ago


    RICHMOND, Calif. – Officials at a high school where a student was gang-raped in a courtyard are moving to tighten campus security with the long-stalled purchase of surveillance cameras, powerful lighting and new fencing.

    The measures were disclosed as community leaders sought ways to calm outrage over the Oct. 24 attack at Richmond High School that police said may have involved as many as 10 suspects and 20 onlookers who failed to call police.

    "Obviously, there wasn't enough security or we wouldn't have had this tragedy happen," said Bruce Harter, superintendent of the West Contra Costa School District.

    Administrators have long pushed for the new measures but couldn't find the money until now, Harter said.

    A seventh suspect was arrested Tuesday in the attack on the 15-year-old girl after she left a homecoming dance in the industrial enclave near the San Francisco Bay known as one of the nation's most dangerous cities.

    At a rally and candlelight vigil later Tuesday, DeAnna Schlau, a victim advocate with the nonprofit Community Violence Solutions read a statement she said was prepared by the victim.

    "Violence is a wrong choice. We realize people are angry about this, but let that anger cause change; change that is necessary to keep our children, our neighbors and our friends safe. We thank everyone for their love, support and ongoing prayers," Schlau said.

    Hundreds attended the event, which featured songs, prayers and dancing.

    Harter said the homecoming dance featured 10 chaperones: Six site supervisors and four police officers were at the school gym to make sure the dance and nearby parking lots were safe. They thought things were going so well that two supervisors were allowed to leave early, Harter added.

    The girl was attacked across campus, where a group of males ranging from 15 to the mid-20s were drinking in the dimly lit courtyard. The victim was invited by a classmate to join the group after leaving the dance.

    She drank a large amount of alcohol with them before the two-hour assault began, police said. Officers acting on a tip later found her semiconscious near a picnic table.

    Charles Johnson, a Richmond High School security specialist, said one of the supervisors at the dance had been keeping an eye on the girl as she waited outside the gym for her father to give her a ride home.

    Sammie Lee Hill, a former police officer and a community relations specialist at the school, said the victim is a caring person and easy to get along with.

    "We all know she's going through a hell of an ordeal," Hill said. "That's what hurts everybody the most."

    Earlier Tuesday, police arrested Elvis Josue Torrentes, 21, of Richmond for investigation of rape, rape in concert with force and other allegations that could lead to life in prison if he is convicted. He was being held on $1.2 million bail.

    Prosecutors have filed charges against five other suspects, including 18-year-old Jose Carlos Montano of San Pablo late Monday. He did not enter a plea during his brief arraignment Tuesday.

    Suspect Cody Ray Smith, 15, pleaded not guilty to charges, while fellow suspects Ari Abdallah Morales, 16, Marcelles James Peter, 17, and Manuel Ortega, 19, did not enter pleas during their arraignment as adults in Contra Costa County Superior Court.

    Attorney Ernie Castillo, who represents Morales, said Tuesday that his client likely will not enter a plea when the suspects return to court Thursday. Castillo said Morales may not do so until prior to a preliminary hearing. It could not be determined if the other suspects had retained lawyers.

    Janet Gutierrez, 16, a junior at the school, said the rape has made her concerned about her own safety.

    "I'm not scared to be in school," Gutierrez said. "But I'm not going to walk around outside, especially when it's dark."

    Community leaders were asking for 100 volunteers to help keep the school safe.

    "I pray that we can use this horrific and heinous incident as a teachable moment," said the Rev. Andre Shumake, who made the plea.
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    7th suspect in Calif. homecoming gang rape charged
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100122/...hzdXNwZWN0aW4-
    RICHMOND, Calif. – A seventh suspect has been charged in the alleged gang rape of a girl outside a Northern California high school homecoming dance.

    Contra Costa County prosecutors on Thursday charged 43-year-old John Crane Jr. of Richmond with forcible rape in concert and a special allegation of personally participating in the crime. He is being held on $100,000 bail.

    The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Crane and the attorney who helped him surrender both declined to comment.

    Crane is one of seven people whom authorities say sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl outside Richmond High School in October.

    Six other males ages 15 to 21 have pleaded not guilty in the attack. They appeared in court Thursday to schedule a preliminary hearing, but that decision was postponed as prosecutors awaited forensic results.

    The next hearing is set for Feb. 25.
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    Teen gang-rape victim in Calif. settles for $4M
    Sat Jan 22, 12:53 pm ET


    RICHMOND, Calif. – Attorneys say a teenage girl who was gang-raped outside a Northern California high school reached a $4 million settlement with the school district.

    The value of the deal in the civil claim against the West Contra Costa Unified School District was revealed this week. It was approved by a judge in November, but its terms were not previously disclosed.

    The girl's attorney, Richard Schoenberger, says district officials agreed that it was not in the girl's best interest to endure depositions or a civil trial.

    The Contra Costa Times reports that only $100,000 of the amount is coming from the school district. The rest is covered by a joint powers authority of which the district is a member.

    Six people have pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the October 2009 rape, which occurred during the Richmond High School homecoming dance.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110122/...ming_gang_rape
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    What good did it to sue?
    Can the school sue the parents of the girl for drinking alcohol on school grounds?
    I'm certainly not blaiming the victim, but the girl needs to take responsibility for her actions.
    Again, we are rewarding people for their own ignorance.
    If she would've never drank so much brandy that she passed out, she most likely would've never been raped.
    What are we teaching kids, that its ok to break the law (underage drinking) and if we are stupid enough to get drunk and pass out, we may get raped, then we can sue the school board for millions of dollars?
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    While I can see sueing the school for improperly supervising a school function - I think that 4M is a tad excessive. It is not going to change what happened and unless she has on going medical expenses, it doesn't seem appropriate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolie Rouge View Post
    While I can see sueing the school for improperly supervising a school function - I think that 4M is a tad excessive. It is not going to change what happened and unless she has on going medical expenses, it doesn't seem appropriate.
    Nothing like suing an already bankrupt school system. I could see if they took that money & donated it back to the school to proide better security., but we both no that is not the case.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolie Rouge View Post
    While I can see sueing the school for improperly supervising a school function - I think that 4M is a tad excessive. It is not going to change what happened and unless she has on going medical expenses, it doesn't seem appropriate.

    I beg to differ. Yes, the settlement isn't going to change what had happened. The girl deserves it for what she endured. Yes, it is the schools fault because the adults should have been keeping an eye on all the children. I believe, the adults who attended the function should have lost their jobs, That is just my opinion.

    I cannot understand why people were standing around watching and laughing? WTF, is wrong with people?

    When i started reading this thread Jennifer Ertman and Elizabeth Pena came to mind. The situations are a bit different BUT the girl could have easily seem the same fate. Yes, she deserves every red cent she was awarded.
    Don't worry about what people think. They don't do it very often.

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    I'm confused, the girl called for a ride at 9:30pm, had enough time to drink enough brandy to be knocked unconscious and be attacked for 2 hours -- what happened to her ride?

    When I drop my kids off for an event at school, I know when it ends and I'm there to pick them up at that time --they know they aren't allowed to leave the event and if they do they are responsible for what happens to them -- in high school no one is checking them in and out and making sure they are going home with "mommy and daddy" and I'm sorry but we don't have actual police supervising activities at our high school -- if that's the norm in other areas I'm not sure, but it would tell me they aren't in the best area and the parents and girl were aware of that too.

    What happened to her is horrible, but at 15/16 years old she is big enough to know better, big enough to have made a decision to leave the school, big enough to decide to drink THAT much, should she have been raped? absolutely not, but is the school responsible for $4million dollars in damages??
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    I beg to differ. Yes, the settlement isn't going to change what had happened. The girl deserves it for what she endured. Yes, it is the schools fault because the adults should have been keeping an eye on all the children. I believe, the adults who attended the function should have lost their jobs, That is just my opinion.

    I cannot understand why people were standing around watching and laughing? WTF, is wrong with people?
    But the people who were supposed to be supervising the event are not paying the 4 MILLION dollar settlement. The persons who stood by and watched it happen without getting help are not the ones paying the 4 MILLION dollar settlement. The TAXPAYERS are paying the 4 MILLION dollar settlement. The lawyers will end up with most of the cash, so in end the girl will be raped by the system again.


    The Contra Costa Times reports that only $100,000 of the amount is coming from the school district. The rest is covered by a joint powers authority of which the district is a member.
    As revealed by this statement, people who have NOTHING to do with THIS school or THAT school event will be paying for the settlement.

    That is like sueing a person because their home is located on the street where a car accident occurred... because they would be associated by address.


    What happened to her is horrible, but at 15/16 years old she is big enough to know better, big enough to have made a decision to leave the school, big enough to decide to drink THAT much, should she have been raped? absolutely not, but is the school responsible for $4million dollars in damages??

    This verdict also teaches her to be a victim.... and profit from these sad tragic events.
    Laissez les bon temps rouler! Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.** a 4 day work week & sex slaves ~ I say Tyt for PRESIDENT! Not to be taken internally, literally or seriously ....Suki ebaynni IS THAT BETTER ?


 

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