|Richmond High School gang rape|
|Location||Richmond, California, U.S.|
Saturday, October 24, 2009 |
9:30 p.m.– c. 12:00 a.m. (UTC-7)
|Attack type||Assault, rape, robbery|
|Victim||15-year-old female student|
The 2009 Richmond High School gang rape occurred on Saturday, October 24, 2009, in Richmond, a city on the northeast side of the San Francisco Bay in California, U.S., when a 15-year-old female student of Richmond High School was raped repeatedly by a group of young males in a courtyard on the school campus while a homecoming dance was being held in the gymnasium. By November 3, 2009, seven arrests had been made in connection with the case, one of the suspects being released on October 29.
The incident received national attention, raising awareness of the city of Richmond. As many as 20 witnesses are believed to have been aware of the attack, but for more than two hours no one notified police. This has suggested parallels with the case of Kitty Genovese, who was raped and murdered in an hour-long attack despite the presence of many bystanders who declined to get involved.
At about 9:30 p.m. (UTC-7), at the conclusion of the homecoming dance, a classmate invited the victim to join a group of males, ranging in ages from 15 to mid-20s, who were drinking alcohol in a dark courtyard on campus. The female victim drank a large amount of brandy, and was propositioned for sex by the alleged attackers. When the victim refused, she was placed on a nearby cement bench and continuously beaten and raped for 2½ hours, at times with a 'foreign object'. A local resident heard of the attack from her boyfriend and immediately contacted the police. The victim was found unconscious under a picnic table and was air-lifted to a hospital in critical condition. She was released from the hospital on Wednesday, October 28.
Salvador Rodriguez, a bystander who witnessed the events describes the assault:
- "They were kicking her in her head and they were beating her up, robbing her and ripping her clothes off; it's something you can't get out your mind. I saw people, like, dehumanizing her; I saw some pretty crazy stuff. She was pretty quiet; I thought she was like dead for a minute but then I saw her moving around. I feel like I could have done something but I don't feel like I have any responsibility for anything that happened."
Witnesses are believed to have recorded video footage of the attack using camera-equipped mobile phones, but local police have not been able to obtain the recordings. At least two dozen bystanders watched the assault without calling 911 to report it.
As of November 3, seven male suspects had been arrested in connection with the case. One of the initial suspects was subsequently released without charge due to lack of evidence. This initial suspect has since claimed that he was merely a witness present at the scene, and that his intent was to help the victim including offering her his shirt. However, he said that he did not contact authorities because he lacked a cell phone and was afraid of retaliation for "snitching". The remaining suspects range in age from 15 to 21. Police stated that their investigations are ongoing, and that they were looking for additional people in relation to the crime. Subsequently, a 43-year-old male was arrested in relation to the events.
Four of the suspects were arraigned on October 29 in the Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez. One chose to enter a plea of not guilty to the two charges of rape with a foreign object and rape by force, while the others chose not to enter a plea at the time. Authorities have indicated that they expect all three juvenile defendants to be charged as adults. All six suspects entered not guilty pleas on Tuesday, December 1.
The attack shocked the community and the nation. Local media said that the act "crossed the boundary of civilized behavior."
Any group of young men who could carry out such an attack on a defenseless, intoxicated student are nothing more than a roving pack of vicious animals, and in a civilized society, vicious animals are put down.
The attack garnered nationwide attention as the most popular blog topic of the week of October 26—30 as bloggers expressed their outrage over the rape. During that week, more than a quarter (26%) of the links from blogs to news sites were to articles about the attack. A website was created in order to support the victim and discuss ways to prevent sexual assault on women. 
The victim's parents made their first public statement on November 1:
Please do not respond to this tragic event by promoting hatred or by causing more pain. We have had enough violence already in this place. If you need to express your outrage, please channel your anger into positive action. Volunteer at a school. Go help a neighbor. Be courageous in speaking the truth and in holding people accountable. Work toward changing the atmosphere in our schools and in this community so that this kind of thing never happens again.
Over 500 students, parents, and area residents held a candle-lit vigil on November 3. At the vigil, the victim's church pastor read a statement from the victim, stating "We realize people are angry about this," but that "violence is always the wrong choice." 200 people marched from Richmond High School to a nearby park and held a rally on November 7 to show support for the victim.
In response to the events, California State Senator Leland Yee suggested legislation to broaden the criteria when failure to report a crime constitutes a criminal offense. Under Yee's proposal, bystanders to crimes against minors could be charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense for failure to immediately report the incident to the police.
Subsequent to the attack the security around the school was increased: high definition surveillance cameras were installed, along with increased lighting and the addition of new fencing.
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