7th suspect in Richmond High gang rape charged

January 21, 2010 5:04:27 PM PST
Prosecutors charged a seventh suspect today in connection with the Oct. 24 gang rape of a 16-year-old girl outside Richmond High School's homecoming dance, Deputy District Attorney Dara Cashman said.

John Crane Jr., a 43-year-old Richmond resident, was charged with rape in concert and the special allegation that he personally penetrated the victim, an allegation that makes him eligible for a life sentence, Cashman said.

Crane, who turned himself in to police Tuesday night, was scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Richmond this afternoon, but the arraignment was delayed because of a transportation mix-up.

He is scheduled to be in court Friday morning instead, Cashman said.

The other six defendants were in court today to set a date for a preliminary hearing, but that was postponed because the district attorney's office is still waiting for the results from forensic tests to be processed.

Those suspects include San Pablo residents Cody Smith, 15, and Ari Morales, 16; Pinole resident Marcelles Peter, 17; and Richmond residents Manuel Ortega, 19, Jose Montano, 18, and Elvis Torrentes, 21.

According to police, as many as 10 people robbed, beat and raped the victim for two and a half hours in a secluded area of the campus beginning at about 9:30 p.m. while as many as a dozen others stood by and watched.

The three juveniles have been charged as adults with rape by a foreign object while acting in concert. Morales has also been charged with robbery, according to the criminal complaint.

Ortega has been charged with forcible rape while acting in concert, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, and robbery, according to the complaint.

Montano has been charged with forcible rape while acting in concert and rape by a foreign object while acting in concert.

Torrentes has been charged with rape by a foreign object of a person unable to resist due to intoxication, rape by a foreign object while acting in concert and rape while acting in concert, Cashman said.

All of the defendants except for Torrentes also face enhancements that make them eligible for a life sentence, Cashman said. Torrentes was not charged with the enhancement because the charges against him don't include allegations that he personally penetrated the victim.

Everybody but Crane has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The group is scheduled to return to court Feb. 25 to set a date for a preliminary hearing.

While Cashman declined to comment on specifics of the case, she said that so far some of the suspects have been identified by DNA evidence.

She said she didn't know how Crane, who is significantly older than the other defendants, knew the group, but she believes that he personally raped the victim.


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