A 15-Year-Old Was Gang Raped On Facebook Live—What You Need To Know

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At least 40 people watched ... and no one called police.

Spending my teen years in Miami, everyone I knew had a crime story to tell. Sexual assault was particularly hard to avoid when alone in public, especially as a female. 

For me, that realization happened while walking home from high school for lunch. An old guy pulled up in a station wagon and asked me for directions.

I misjudged him. I got closer to him when he said he couldn't hear me. He pulled me by the arm into his window where he was naked from the waist down.

Thankfully, I broke free. A neighbor spotted me running and let me into his house. Together, we called the cops. For a week, police drove around our neighborhood. Since I was a high school student, and the incident happened during lunchtime, a report was made to the principal. He then warned the rest of the school to be aware of potential perpetrators, and how to be extra careful.

I got lucky. Not every teen is so fortunate. Especially when big-city crime gets out of hand.

Sexual assault and the gang rape of teenagers is on the rise and sexual assault crimes on social media is, too.

A recent study on the sexual assault of adolescents reveals that 12.4 percent of sex crimes are gang rapes. What's worse, out of each crime reported, less than 60 percent of sexual assault crimes committed against teens end in a prosecution of the perpetrators. Even sadder, sexual assault victims are so desperate and ashamed when their rape is publicized on social media, some victims commit suicide. 

On the evening of Sunday, March 19th, 2017, in Chicago, another teenage girl became part of the 1.8 million adolescents who become victims of sexual assault.

The story is heartbreaking: Five or six men aired their gang rape of the victim, a 15-year-old girl on Facebook Live while 40 viewers watched but failed to report the sex crime to police as it took place. 

There several details to unpack in this Facebook Live gang rape case. Here are 10 things you need to know:
 

1. The Chicago victim was a 15-year-old high school freshman who was with family just before she turned up missing. 

After spending Saturday evening with her uncle, Reginald King dropped her off at home where she was last seen around 1:00 p.m. 

 

2. At least 40 people viewed the gang rape as it was streamed on Facebook Live.

The details surrounding who watched as the youth was sexually assaulted on Facebook are equally disturbing. Although no one reported the crime to law enforcement, both the victim's mother and uncle state that they received news from friends who recognized the girl as they saw what happened on Facebook. Screenshots of the youth were taken as they live video aired and were sent to her mother. 

Again, the Bystander Effect and lack of closure are becoming more common when law enforcement deals with sexual assault crimes, according to the 2013 Human Rights Watch report.

 

3. The victim went missing for 24 hours.

The girl's mother, a resident of Lawndale in Chicago's west side, said she became concerned for her daughter's safety when she didn't come home later Sunday afternoon. She filed a Missing Person's Report the next day after the teen had been gone for almost 24 hours. At that time, no rape report had been filed.  
 

4. At least one family member was told about the Facebook Live video.

The girl's uncle told The Chicago Tribune that a youth alerted him to the crime as it was taking place.

“This is one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen a kid do," King said. "There were adults who saw this. None of them had the wherewithal to say, ‘Hey, I gotta call someone.’”

Her mother learned of the video through her daughter's friends. According to the Associated Press, "...friends of her daughter who saw the video recognized her daughter..." and sent her screenshots of what was happening.
 

5. The search for the teen girl began Monday afternoon.

The girl's mother spotted Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson outside at the tenth district station while he was leaving, and she showed him the disturbing screenshots of the video footage sent to her by her daughter's friends. She identified her daughter as being the victim in the pictures.

That's when Johnson took action and ordered a search for the missing 15-year-old girl.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the video made its way into law enforcement officials' hands when Chicago activist Andrew Holmes got involved after a friend of victim's mother contacted him and requested his help.
 

6. No one has been arrested, and no suspects have been named in the case at this time.

At this time, no arrests have been made, and no suspects have been mentioned, yet law enforcement state that the case is making progress.

One juvenile had been taken into custody, and persons of interest with knowledge of the gang rape of the Chicago teenager are being interviewed. 

Although the details as to how the girl was taken by the perpetrators or the location where the crime took place are still unreported, police believe the girl knows the people who gang raped her. 
 

7. The role of Facebook Live and how it helps solve crimes like this is complicated.

According to TheNextWeb.com, reporting the sexual assault of the Chicago teenager on Facebook is not enough to command that the identities of who aired the video will be released. In fact, there's a specific process that requires a burden of proof.

Chicago police department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told Al Jazeera that in order to find out who viewed the video so they can be questioned, investigators would have to subpoena Facebook and “prove a nexus to criminal activity” to obtain such a subpoena.

However, law enforcement has successfully requested that Facebook take the video down. 
 

8. Viewers who watched the Facebook Live video cannot be held accountable for not reporting the crime or watching it take place.

As terrible as it may seem, watching a crime take place is not the same thing as participating in it, even if you don't report it.

Jeffrey Urdangen, a professor at Northwestern University's law school and the director of the school's Center for Criminal Defense, explained to Time magazine that although the victim is a minor, the "child pornography charges apply only if viewers were found to have downloaded the video."
 

9. The rape victim is in good condition, although emotionally she is afraid for her safety.

The victim's mother believes that the Facebook Live video and sexual assault of her daughter took place sometime Sunday night. She was close to 40 hours when police found her at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday. 

According to a recent interview with the Associated Press, the girl's mother states that her daughter continues to be a victim of bullying by teens in their community. The victim has received online threats and text messages with humiliating statements.

The situation is serious enough that the Cook County State Attorney's office has offered the victim and her family relocation services.
 

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