Thursday, October 29, 2009
Image by [puamelia] via Flickr
Last Saturday night a 15-year old girl left early from the Richmond High School homecoming dance, in order to call her father for a ride home. Instead, she let a group of friends and young adults talk her into having alcoholic beverages in a nearby parking lot....after which time she got drunk, and passed out.
However, instead of being helped home in her vulnerable state, the girl was forcibly dragged to a shaded courtyard just blocks from the dance...where she was savagely gang- raped, beaten and robbed of her jewelry.
Ten or more teenage and older boys, participated in these horrific crimes, some of them joining into the act LONG after it had begun. Even worse, the ordeal lasted almost two-and-a half HOURS, after which time ONE person called 911...FINALLY! (Among the many passers-by and onlookers near the scene) Why no one stepped in or called for help sooner...remains a puzzling mystery.
To some degree of relief, the victim was released from the hospital yesterday, while five suspects were caught, and are being charged with crimes that could send them to prison for life. Four of them are teenagers being charged as adults, and, Richmond Police plan on making more arrests as new leads trickle in..
They've spent the past four days interviewing students and young adults who's accounts have helped lead to a few of the current arrests. A 20,000 reward is even being offered for information leading to criminal convictions in the case.
Recovering from tragedy will be difficult--for the young girl, for her school, and for the community. As the victim rested at home, Richmond High School rallied back with a large gathering of concerned students, teachers and community leaders...each speaking out loudly to protect and defend their reputations.
Teachers talked about ending our society's trend toward de-humanizing women, especially the current attitudes some men fashion toward them, specifically on TV and in music industry.
Community leaders also reminded us that gang rape and other despicable crimes are not just problems in Richmond, or other cities with low income and high crime rates. These problems occur everywhere!
Richmond High School students agree, saying they are proud of themselves, and claiming they aren't animals or savages....but responsible, respectable individuals who care about making positive changes to improve their common future. The school's impressively solid state testing scores bare this out.
The West Contra Costa school board sub-committee has also called for increased security and cameras, both in, and around local high schools. In addition, nearby communities have offered to form neighborhood watch programs and other increased crime awareness methods.
Let's just hope that all who were criminally involved in these crimes will be justly prosecuted....while the victim, her school, and her community, continue to heal and learn from this horrid gang-rape, in order to to prevent it from ever happening again!
Thanks, and watch out for one-another.