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Lack of Surveillance to Blame for Gang Rape of 15-Year Old?

October 28, 2009 Leave a comment

If you saw a young girl being brutally beaten and raped before your eyes, would you reach out to help in some way, or would you simply stand there and watch?  It seems that more people would rather stand by and watch; at least, this was the case in the recent report that is sending shockwaves around the country.

According to recent news reports, a 15-year old girl was attending her homecoming dance at Richmond High School when she was robbed, brutally beaten and raped by at least a dozen or more people.  What makes the situation even more horrifying is the fact that there were supposedly a total of 20 or so people who either participated in the rape or who watched as the rape took place and did NOTHING.

So, what caused the rape to take place?  Supposedly, the 15-year old (whose name is being withheld) left the homecoming dance around 9:30 p.m. to be picked up by her father.  However, on the way out from the dance, a friend asked her to walk with [them] to the other side of the school property into a dimly lit alley.  Once on the other side of the school building, the girl was met by a bunch of [students] who may or may not have had alcohol.  Just outside of the school, the girl was then robbed, and brutally beaten and raped for over two hours.  The girl only received medical attention when she was found laying unconscious on school property.  Currently, she is recovering in a hospital and does not have any life-threatening injuries.  But many people- especially parents are outraged over this incident.  How could a 15-year-0ld student have been raped on school property for over two hours without any faculty members knowing about it?

The Bystander Effect

According to some criminology and psychology experts, one of the reasons why witnesses may have done nothing to stop the rape of this young woman is due to something called the ‘bystander effect’.  According to Drew Carberry, a director at the National Council on Crime Prevention:

If you are in a crowd and you look and see that everyone is doing nothing, then nothing becomes the norm. [source]

Additionally, Carberry states that witnesses are less likely to report a crime because they reinforce this notion that reporting the crime isn’t necessary.  The other possibility is that witnesses within the group may think that someone else has already taken the opportunity to report the crime.  Responsibility becomes diffused among the group and almost ceases to exist.

So, where were the school officials when all of this was taking place?

No one seems to know.  What we do know is that in January of 2010, surveillance cameras were scheduled to be installed on the school property, specifically in the very area where the rape took place.

In the meantime, rumors are swirling that people were coming out of the dance when they heard that a rape was taking place.  So, can the people who stood by and did nothing actually be charged with a crime? It’s not as easy as you would think.  In order to be charged for a crime, you would have to prove that the bystanders somehow aided and abetted those involved in the rape, robbery and beating of the 15-year-old girl, either by restraining the victim or by participating in some other way such as blocking her path to prevent her from leaving, etc.

Arrests & Suspects

As part of an ongoing investigation to determine exactly who was involved in this heinous crime, investigators are offering a $20,000 reward to anyone who comes forward with information that will aid in the arrest and conviction of those involved in the 2.5 hour sexual assault that the female victim had to endure.  So far, the Richmond Police Department has arrested five people involved in the gang rape, but these aren’t the only people responsible for this crime.

It has been said that the victim could bring a civil suit against the school because, legally, the school has an obligation to protect its students by providing adequate security.  That being said, most of us are still reeling from this horrific event as we are left asking the question: “How could a 15-year-old-student be raped and beaten for 2.5 hours go in a public place without anyone saying anything or calling the police?”  Perhaps, in time, we will know the answer.

For more information about criminal investigations, contact Cat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.