Boy, 14 Charged in Facebook Live Sexual Assault, Hunt for Others, Intensifies

A day after charging a 14-year-old boy in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl that was carried on Facebook Live, police said on Sunday that they were seeking the arrest of a 15-year-old boy in connection with the crime.

Police are also trying to identify others who took part in the assault, officials said, but the investigation has been slowed by the trauma experienced by the girl.

“She’s just having such a difficult time even communicating what occurred to her,” Cmdr. Brendan Deenihan said at a news conference at Chicago police headquarters. “We obviously have a video of the incident, so we have verifiable objective evidence of what occurred to this young lady, but she’s just having a very difficult time.

“On top of it, there’s constant social media … bullying (of the girl), making fun of what occurred. This is just a very traumatic incident.”

The girl had stayed over with family the evening of March 18 and gone to church with them the next day, then was dropped off near home before disappearing.

Deenihan said the girl was “lured” to a residence by one of the attackers, who did not allow her to leave. As many as six males took part in the assault, police have said. She was found two days later walking down the street near her home.

The 14-year-old boy was charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, manufacture of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography, all of which are felonies, police said.

The boy faces a hearing in juvenile court Monday, court officials said.

One of the suspects broadcast the assault on Facebook Live, and authorities have said that as many as 40 people saw it. None called police, an abstention that enraged Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

“We’ve seen a couple acts in this city now in the last few months involving social media, and it just disgusts me that people could look at those videos and not pick up the phone and dial 911,” he said at the press conference. “It makes you wonder where are we going, what are we doing as a society?”

Reginald King, a relative of the girl, said a teen alerted him to the assault on Facebook. Chicago activist Andrew Holmes got the video to police, and the girl’s mother was shown screen shots and was able to identify her daughter.

After the girl was found, she was reunited with her mother and taken to a hospital, where she was examined for injuries, a family member later told the Tribune.

As news of the attack spread, people began ringing the family’s doorbell and coming around the house in a menacing way, the girl’s mother has told the Tribune, and police described a campaign of social media bullying against her. The taunts prompted authorities to relocate her family to another home, which police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi described as “a safe place.”

The girl’s mother did not return messages seeking comment on the arrest.

Deenihan said that authorities have looked into possible charges against those who watched the video and bullied the girl, but said that making charges stick appears to be a complicated task.

Guglielmi said Facebook has told authorities it’s not possible to identify who is watching a video on the platform. And Deenihan said the bullying hasn’t risen to the level of criminal conduct.

“We’re going to vet all that out to see if there is a specific possible charge, but right now there isn’t a specific threat made to the victim or her family, nothing anybody could be charged with,” he said.

The attack was at least the fourth Chicago crime caught on Facebook Live since the end of October. Continue Reading

Article Org: chicagotribune.com

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