2 arrests made in teen gang rape case

October 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The crime itself was sickening enough. A Bay Area teenager was gang raped after her homecoming dance Saturday night in Richmond. Now police are looking for as many as a dozen people who watched it happen and did nothing.

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Police are looking for potentially as many as a dozen spectators and between four and seven actual rapists in this case. Police say some people walked by and actually participated in this crime. No one called police and to make matters worse, authorities told ABC7 some of these people may have recorded this entire rape on their cell phone cameras.

Police pulled a 15-year-old Richmond High student out of class and drove him away for questioning in connection with the rape of a fellow student during Saturday's homecoming dance. He was later arrested Monday night and charged with rape. A second high school student was also picked up by Richmond police for questioning, but was later released.

Manuel Ortega, 19, is not a student but is already in custody, caught by police as he ran away from the scene. He is being held in the county jail in Martinez on suspicion of rape and robbery.

Authorities arrived as the vicious gang rape that lasted two and a half hours was still going on.

Passersby had stopped to watch, some even participated.

"I would say we're looking at four to seven active participants of sexual assault and extremely violent felonies. We're also suspecting there were up to a dozen people who witnessed what had happened and their involvement is unknown," says Richmond Police spokesperson Lt. Mark Gagan.

The victim is a 15-year-old Richmond High School student. She was robbed, beaten and remains hospitalized. At least one of her attackers was someone she knew. The girl had left the dance alone around 9:30 to catch a ride from her dad.

She ended up joining a group that had been drinking in an area on the edge of campus. It would have been dark and secluded at night.

"The series of events that occurred over the next two and a half hours got more severe and more vicious to where she was ultimately gang raped, beaten and her injuries were so severe that she had to be sent to the hospital in a helicopter," says Gagan.

School officials say there was plenty of security and chaperones at the dance, but no one was patrolling the surrounding campus.

When one Richmond High School student was asked if the school was safe at night, he replied, "No it's not. Not at night time."

On the first day of school since the dance, counselors were on campus to talk with students. District officials insisted Richmond High is a safe place.

"There's just so much control that one can do after that, once they leave the sidewalk we can't follow them home," says District Spokesman Marin Trujillo.

Police officers and school administrators were at the dance and even though they checked the campus when the dance ended at 11 p.m., district officials say they may not have searched the area where the attack was occurring.

School board members have approved a new million dollar surveillance system for the school, but not soon enough -- the cameras there now don't work. School board member Charles Ramsey said broken surveillance cameras at the high school are still one week away from being replaced.

"It is a safe school, 95 percent of the students here perform well, do what they're expected to do, but do we have a part of the campus element here that is out of control? Yes," says Charles Ramsey, a school board member. "We do understand and are not putting our head in the sand around the fact that Richmond has a lot of issues and problems in terms of safety."

The victim remains in stable condition in the hospital.

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