Richmond High gang rape victim testifies
on June 19, 2013
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
Richmond Confidential is an online news service produced by the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism for, and about, the people of Richmond, California. Our goal is to produce professional and engaging journalism that is useful for the citizens of the city.
Please send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.