Thursday 25 May 2017

Five charged with gang rape of girl (7) sold for sex

James Williams in New Jersey

Two men and three teenage boys have been charged with gang raping a seven-year-old girl sold for sex by her 15-year-old step-sister during a party at a crime-ridden apartment block in New Jersey in the US.

Details of the arrests were announced outside police headquarters in Trenton last night.

Police director Irving Bradley said police had been working around the clock since the rape was reported on March 28.

"We did get a lot of co-operation from the community, which helped break this case," Mr Bradley said.

Those arrested included a 20-year-old man who has been in custody since Friday, when he was charged with having sex with the 15-year-old.

The other four were a 19-year-old and boys aged 13, 14 and 17. Each was charged with aggravated sexual assault and child endangerment.

Prosecutors would probably seek to try the minors as adults, Mercer County prosecutor Joseph Bocchini said.

Shocked

The case shocked residents of the Rowan Towers apartment building, where three of those arrested lived, police captain Joseph Juniak said.

The building's management has stepped up its security presence there and promised extra safety measures, but residents expressed scepticism that the flats would become safer.

Police said the 15-year-old girl went to a party with some men at Rowan Towers on March 28 and the younger girl tagged along because she was worried about her step-sister's safety.

They said the 15-year-old sold sex to men and boys there, then took money to let them touch the younger girl.

They said the touching turned to forcible sex as at least seven men raped her.

Additional arrests were expected, police said.

Before the arrest announcement, the 15-year-old girl had been charged with promoting prostitution, aggravated sexual assault and other crimes. She remains in juvenile detention.

Trenton mayor Doug Palmer, who met the seven-year-old victim and her family in his office, described their ordeal as a "torment".

"They're in a safe place right now," he said. "I would ask that the community embraces this family -- they are going through a lot."

Mr Palmer, who gave the girl a stuffed rabbit for Easter, said the family was having counselling and indicated they may be moved permanently from the city.

He praised police for their hard work, but said the investigation into "this heinous crime" was not over.

Irish Independent

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