Richmond High gang rape victim testifies

On Monday the victim of the gang rape that occurred four years ago at Richmond High School made her first public appearance to testify at Contra Costa County Court House in Martinez.   Photo by: Fareed Rahman

On Monday the victim of the gang rape that occurred four years ago at Richmond High School made her first public appearance to testify at Contra Costa County Court House in Martinez. Photo by: Fareed Rahman

The woman who is allegedly the victim of a gang rape that happened four years ago outside Richmond High’s homecoming dance testified Monday to a full courtroom at Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez.

It was the first time the woman had appeared publicly since reports of the brutal rape sent shock waves across the country in 2009, and she took the stand to give evidence against two of the men accused of sexually assaulting her.

Jane Doe (the judge has told media not to use her real name) said that she does not remember being sexually assaulted but said that she woke up in the hospital in excruciating pain.

“The pain was everywhere from head to toe. My face was distorted,” she said. Her legs were especially painful. “It felt like somebody ripped them out of place,” she said.

After waking up and discovering she was attached to machines, Jane Doe said she remembers thinking she had an earache that wouldn’t go away. “I felt nauseous, as if someone had taken out my insides and stabbed them and put them back in,” she said. Her back felt as if it had been burned. “I was told in the hospital they put out cigarettes on my back. I still have those scars.”

On the witness stand the small woman looked composed and spoke calmly. During a break from Monday’s trial she walked stiffly with her hands clasped in front of her.

At the time of the attack she was 16, a sophomore at Richmond High School. She had worn diamond-studded earrings and a purple dress and matching handbag to that evening’s homecoming dance. It was October 24, 2009, a Saturday night. She said her father dropped her off around 9 p.m.

“I did not stay for long. I left the venue because of the blaring music,” she said.

After leaving the party, the woman testified, she walked in front of the school and was greeted by a friend who invited her to the courtyard where a group of boys and men were sitting around a picnic table. She said they talked and exchanged ringtones before she told them that she had to leave.  She told them she had church in the morning and she had a headache.

“Did you drink with boys?” prosecutor John Cope asked her.

“No,” she said.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.

When Cope asked whether she remembers anyone trying to kiss her or have sex with her she said, “No.”

She said that she remembers falling but did not remember what made her fall.

According to police, the sexual assault went on for more than two hours before someone called police on 911.  Some accounts suggest more than 20 men were involved. The victim said on Monday that she remembers none of it.

Anamaree Rea, a nurse who examined the woman after she was brought to the hospital, also testified on Monday. The prosecution projected horrific images of the victim’s wounds and bruises. Rea told the jury that on the night of the crime, Jane Doe’s face was so swollen it looked like a “moon shape.”

One of her toenails had been torn off and she had what appeared to be road rash on her her legs and back. The nurse testified that the marks on the victim’s back were not cigarette burns but abrasions. “The first layer of skin had come off. There were more areas of abrasion, erythema and redness on the left side of her back,” Rea said.

Rea also testified that the woman told her she had been drinking that night. “She was specific about drinking at the park bench and did not remember anything after that until she woke up in the hospital,” Rea said.

Since the rape, Jane Doe said she has learning problems. She has trouble remembering simple things and she gets periodic migraines. “It was pretty bad at first,” she said.

The accused men, Jose Montano, 22, of Richmond, and Marcelles Peter, 20, of Pinole, both pleaded not guilty Monday.Jane Doe said that she did not recognize Peter but that Montano had been introduced to her briefly that night.

The trial will continue this week. On Wednesday two students from Richmond High School who were present that night are scheduled to testify, along with a doctor.

Ari Morales, 19, was sentenced to 27 years in February after pleading guilty to rape by a foreign object in concert, and no-contest to rape in concert and forcible oral copulation in concert. Two other accused are awaiting trial.

By: Fareed Rahman

6 Comments

  1. bsbfankaren

    Can anyone blame the victim (no longer alleged since two have pleaded guilty and been sentenced for participating in her rape) for saying she wasn’t drinking that night? How many people believe, BELIEVE that if a woman drinks alcohol it is therefore solely her responsible for what happens to her? Serena Williams has now been caught saying almost exactly that. At some point if we are going to change the culture of rape in this country, we are going to have to teach our young men from a very early age that it is not acceptable to take sexual advantage of women simply because she is intoxicated. Just as women as responsible for their own actions, men must also be willing to understand that if they have sex with a woman who is too intoxicated to consent, they are in fact raping her and it is a crime.

    • Michael

      I’m not familiar with the case although I remember parts of it being broadcast. Anyway, I feel that anyone who forces a women to have sex against her will should pay the price, whatever that is. It used to be a capital offence, punishable by death. It is a serious matter. Just think about it guys. Would U like to be anally raped? How do u think that would feel? What if people blamed u for “asking for it”

  2. truthis

    And she got $4million dollars from gitn pissy drunk, lying about it 4yrs later? I’m sorry but she played a big role in this incident as well and nows the time to start owning up to it. Yes their sick and that’s y they are now reaping what they sow! But that young black woman who was raped in this same city a year or two prior for being a lesbian got nothing not even an investigation. How bout that Justice, Equality tho

  3. I can’t believe what I’m reading in these comments. Are you people actually condoning rape? Are you actually saying that the way a woman dresses, acts, behaves or anything else justifies raping her?

    When you have sex with another person and that person does not consent–that’s rape. That’s all there is to it. It’s a criminal act and it’s wrong.

    It doesn’t matter what her intentions were when she took that first drink with these men, she never gave her permission to be violated. From all accounts, she got to the point where she was so drunk that she either could not give her consent or was even unconscious and incapable of giving consent. And you people think that means it’s okay for a man to force themselves on her? What in the world is wrong with you people? What kind of upbringing did you have where even in your wildest dreams you might think this is acceptable?

    And lest you all forget, this was a young woman who obviously looked like a young high schooler. Statutory rape is still rape. Even if she gave consent–which no one suggests she did–she did not have the legal right to give her consent to these much older men.

    These men knew what they were doing was illegal and wrong but because there are people like you out in the community telling them that young women like her deserve it, they think it’s okay.

    And for ‘truthis’, you can’t make comparisons of one case with another. You can’t compare the police involvement if one case with another. There are injustices everywhere but each case needs to be addressed on it’s own. Both of these were travesties but please save your comparisons.

    This young woman got her settlement because the school district failed her in so many ways. She got a settlement because there was inadequate security at the homecoming dance. She got her settlement because the area where the crime was committed was blocked off from the view of anyone who might have been able to stop the crime (keep in mind that this was right in front of 23rd street). She got her settlement because the District failed to properly illuminate this area. And she got this settlement because had it gone to a jury they would have given her everything the District owned. Mistakes were made by a lot of people–the kinds of mistakes that were easily preventable and this is one of the reasons why she got this settlement.

  4. Kennedy Grad

    Thanks Don!

    One additional point is that while it isn’t clear that she drank any alcohol at all voluntarily, it is clear that the perpetrators poured alcohol down her throat after she had passed out, which could, in itself, be grounds for attempted murder, as she had a near lethal dose of alcohol in her blood.

  5. Giorgio Cosentino

    Dr. Harter should have resigned or been fired, or he should have fired those in charge of safety. This never should have happened. You have police patrolling the street. You had security inside the prom. You had a zone between the prom and street that wasn’t being monitored. A zone that the WCCUSD was responsible for. Totally unacceptable. And the school board is too buddy-buddy with the district staff, so again, no firings.

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