Richmond High Gang Rape: One year later

October 28, 2010 12:24:38 AM PDT
It has been one year since a Richmond High School student was brutally gang raped outside her homecoming dance. Since then a lot has changed and the school board discussed new security measures in place at Wednesday night's meeting.

The girl was just 15 at the time of the attack. She has since settled her case with the school district.

The section of campus where the attack took place was so dark and so isolated school security had no idea the attack went on for more than two hours while a crowd watched and did nothing to help.

Today the same area looks much different. Trimmed trees make the space visible, fences keep kids out when they should not be there and new lights that actually work. Video cameras once covered in cobwebs got a $2.5 million upgrade. They now produce high definition video that stands up in court.

"We can be criticized for a lot of things but I take a lot of pride in the fact that we did what was necessary to make the community understand that we responded, we saw the problem and we fixed the problem," West Contra Costa County School Board member Charles Ramsey said.

More security upgrades are in store for the rest of the school district.

A court date is in store in about two weeks for the seven accused attackers to decide whether or not they will stand trial. They range in age from high school students to a 43-year-old man. All remain in jail facing life in prison.

On campus, the wounds still run deep.

"The students of Richmond High are fine outstanding, hardworking young people who want to do well in life and they felt like they were adversely impacted as a result of the tragedy that happened here," Superintendent Bruce Harter said.

But no one suffered greater wounds than the victim herself. A year later, her identity remains anonymous. ABC7 has learned her family reached a legal settlement with the school district for an undisclosed amount. Sources say it was in the millions.

The lawyer for one of the seven suspects, 43-year-old John Crane, says he plans to argue crane was not even in the area the night of the attack. As for the rest of the suspects, they will all be in court on Nov. 15 for a preliminary hearing that is expected to last for days. Police and dozens of witnesses are expected to testify; the victim is not. School officials say they have done everything possible to ensure that last year's brutal attack is does not become Richmond High's legacy.

"People won't do more bad stuff because they think they're on camera, so they won't do it," Richmond High School student Jose Sarate said.

At Wednesday night's district safety committee meeting, school administrators said the cameras enable limited security staff to focus on strategic areas.

"Outsiders find it more difficult to come onto campus. We can quickly identify them when they come in. I think overall there's a feeling of greater security and safety at Richmond High," Richmond High School Assistant Principal Kibby Kleiman said.

With the homecoming dance coming up, new security measures will be in place.

"Now if you want to leave, they're going to have to see your parents come out and pick you up personally," Richmond High School student Maria Luna said.

Students cannot leave the dance early. Police and citizen volunteers will patrol the campus and students who buy tickets, but don't show up by 9 p.m. will have their parent or guardian contacted.


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