Chicago police looking for second juvenile in alleged Facebook Live gang rape
Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for another teenage boy in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old Chicago girl that was streamed live on Facebook and they expect to charge others, including one adult. (April 2)
CHICAGO — Police said Sunday that they have identified and are searching for a second juvenile suspect in an alleged gang rape of a 15-year-girl last month that was streamed on Facebook Live.
The development came after Chicago Police Department announced late Saturday that they had charged a 14-year-old boy with aggravated criminal assault, manufacturing of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography for his part in the chilling incident that investigators said was viewed by dozens on the popular social media platform.
The younger suspect appeared in juvenile court Saturday and was ordered held in custody at Cook County’s Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, said Tandra Simonton, a spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney.
Police described the second suspect as a 15-year-old boy, and like the 14-year-old, he will be charged as a juvenile. Because of the suspects’ ages, police did not release their names.
Authorities said that they are looking to identify several other juveniles — and at least one adult — who lured the girl to the basement of a residence on the city’s West side on March 19 before assaulting her.
The girl knew one of the assailants responsible for the attack and was prevented from leaving the residence where she was assaulted, said Commander Brendan Deenihan, who leads the CPD division investigating the incident.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson described the attack as an act of “savagery” and said he was inspired by the girl’s strength in working with detectives to help identify suspects in the case.
“They humiliated themselves, they humiliated their families, and now they are going to be held accountable for what they did,” Johnson said. “While I know the emotional wounds caused by this savagery will take long to heal, I’m hopeful her story can be an inspiration to so many other young women who are victimized by bullying and sexual assault.”
Police announced on March 21 that they were searching for five to six individuals for the assault of the girl soon after the victim’s mother approached the superintendent with still frames captured from Facebook.
The girl, who had gone missing March 19, was found by Chicago detectives two days later.
After the girl was reunited with her family, they endured online taunts and harassing messages, Johnson said. The video, which has been removed from Facebook, was also viewed in real time by dozens of people, but no one called authorities, police said.
Deenihan said charges could not be filed against individuals who have taunted the family because no specific threats were made against the girl or her family.
It will also be difficult to pursue charges against any individuals who watched the video. Prosecutors would have to prove that individuals who viewed the assault on Facebook Live knew that the victim was a minor and that they were in fact in control of their account at the time of the assault, said Anthony Guglielmi, the police department chief spokesman.
The department says it has worked with the State Attorney’s Office and the city of Chicago to provide support for the girl and to help relocate her and her family.
“We have a very good idea of who the other (suspects) are,” Deenihan said. “Working with this victim at this time is very, very slow because she does not want to talk about what occurred for obvious reasons. She’s traumatized. She’s going to need help for a long time after this.”
Andrew Holmes, a community activist who is serving as spokesman for the family, urged others involved in the alleged assault to turn themselves in. He also suggested that he stood ready to publish images of some of the assailants that appear in the video.
“I’m giving you a strict warning,” Holmes said. “You know you were in that basement, you are in that video, you assaulted that woman … If you don’t turn yourself in sooner or later, I’m going to do the same thing you did with that baby. I’m going to snapshot your pictures — each and everyone of you. Your pictures will be circulated all over the city. I’m going to Facebook your pictures and see how you feel.”
Follow USA TODAY Chicago correspondent Aamer Madhani on Twitter: @AamerISmad