|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Court documents and dozens of interviews over several weeks with the girl’s family, her friends and neighbors, as well as those who know the defendants, provide a more complete picture of what occurred as well as a deeper portrait of the victim. What begins to emerge is the nightmarish ordeal of a young girl over two and a half months involving an eclectic group of young men, some with criminal records, who shared a powerful neighborhood bond.
The Cleveland police and the local district attorney have released little information about the alleged rapes and the evidence, and their silence has allowed rumor and speculation to flourish. Judge Mark Morefield of State District Court issued a broad order two weeks ago prohibiting law enforcement officials, defense lawyers, potential witnesses and relatives of the girl and defendants from speaking about the case to reporters.
The girl, a sixth grader whose parents are immigrants from Mexico,
It is unclear from the affidavits if the younger Mr. Ellis was there the night of Nov. 28. But the girl said that a cousin, Timothy D. Ellis, 19, was there, and ordered her to strip, telling her that he would “have some girls beat her up” and would not drive her home if she refused, the affidavits said.
The affidavits said the girl told investigators that she then “engaged in sexual intercourse and oral sex” with several of the men present, among them Jared G. McPherson, 18, a high school basketball player, and Jared L. Cruse, also 18, who has since been charged with robbing a grocery store in the next county.
During the sexual assault, the girl said, she heard Mr. McGowen call someone on the phone and invite him to the house to have sex with her, the affidavits said. Four more men whom she did not know arrived.
Four of the defendants are charged with continuous sexual abuse of a young child. The rest are charged with a single count of aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14. Both felonies carry a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. In Texas, a child under 17 cannot give legal consent and, as in most states, ignorance of a child’s age is not a legal defense.
The small house where the girl lived is on a dusty road on the outskirts of town, about 10 miles from Precinct 20. There were chickens in the yard and a trampoline out front, where her father sometimes slept during the afternoons. She lived there with her parents, two older sisters who were in high school and a younger brother.
A 36-year-old cousin of the girl, who lived next door, said her family was in dire economic straits since Juan stopped working. The water and electricity had been cut off at times in recent months.
Juan injured his back in November 2009 and has not held a steady job since. A diabetic, he receives disability checks of $700 a month. His wife, 42, was told last year that she had a mass in her brain, and a doctor had said it should be removed, friends said. She suffers frequent headaches and fainting spells. His wife, 42, was told last year that she had a mass in her brain, and a doctor had said it should be removed, friends said. She suffers frequent headaches and fainting spells.
Two months ago, when the arrests started, the state Child Protective Services placed the girl, who had also received threats, in a foster home. “They told her it was best that they take her away from this town,” Ms. Lopez said.
A case worker has informed Juan that he and his wife must attend family therapy sessions to regain custody. Juan said he was despondent at the prospect of losing his daughter permanently. He said that she was doing well but that she was still fearful. “You can see she’s not happy,” he said. Then he added, “She will never recover from this.”
Labels: hack journalism