Victim of 2009 Richmond gang rape takes stand

June 17, 2013 6:11:54 PM PDT
A young woman testified Monday, for the first time, in a gang rape trial about an assault outside her Richmond High School four years ago.

The court is calling her "Jane Doe" to protect her privacy and for security reasons. She walked into the courthouse Monday morning, took the stand before a packed courtroom, and answered all the questions directed at her by the prosecutor. Before she started answering question about the night she was assaulted for nearly 2.5 hours, she took a deep breath and slowly let it out.

The prosecution took Jane Doe back to the night of October 24, 2009, the night the 16-year-old sophomore left the homecoming dance early because she didn't feel well, the night of what prosecutors called a "brutal gang rape" that went on for hours in a dark campus courtyard.

The victim, a petite woman now 20-years-old, answered questions in a raspy voice. She spoke directly and without emotion. At the defense table were two of her accused attackers, 22-year-old Joe Montano and Marcelles Peter. She said she recognized Montano, but not Peters.

Jane Doe said a friend approached her as she was about to call her father to pick her up. She said he asked her to join him and three others who were at a picnic table in the courtyard. She said she recalled seeing a bottle at the table, but didn't remember drinking from it.

The young woman told the court she remembered very little of that night. "I remember not seeing anything because my eyes were closed and I was holding onto my necklace and getting kicked in the stomach," she said.

The prosecutor asked her if she consented to have sex with anyone. "No," she said. She was asked if she drank with the boys. "No," she replied. "I got up to stand up, and I woke up the next day at the hospital," she said.

A sex response nurse testified later that Jane Doe's face was swollen and distorted, that her body, including her genitals, was badly bruised. Jane Doe testified that when she awoke at the hospital, "I felt very nauseous as if someone took my inside and stuffed it back in."

Prosecutor John Cope showed photographs of the girl's injuries. Her back was covered with lacerations, bruises, dirt, and vegetation from being dragged on the ground. Jane Doe told the court, "I felt a burning feeling. (The police) told me they put cigarettes out on my back. I still have scars from that to this day."

The cross examination was very brief Monday. Defense attorney Jane Elliot suggested that Jane Doe might have contradicted her own testimony, referring to a statement she gave police at the hospital that night where she stated that she did not believe she had been violated.

Later, the nurse also pointed out another contradiction, testifying that she recalled Jane Doe saying she did in fact drink brandy.

Montano and Peter both face life in prison if they are convicted. Two men have already been convicted in the attack and two other men are awaiting trial. By some accounts, as many as 20 men participated in the attack.

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