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Entries in gang rape (4)

Friday
Aug312012

Missing Defendant in Texas Gang Rape Case Sentenced to 99 Years

Hemera/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- Authorities in Texas are searching for a convicted rapist who vanished in the middle of his trial and has been sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Eric McGowen, 20, was not in court for his conviction or for his sentence on Thursday. The jury decided that he was guilty of the aggravated sexual assault after less than 15 minutes of deliberations. McGowen was then sentenced to 99 years in prison.

McGowen was out of jail on bond during the trial. He was in court for the victim's tearful testimony on Wednesday, but failed to return from a court break soon after. Since he was out on bond, he did not have an official accompanying him during the break.

Wednesday was the first day of trial. Judge Mark Morefield issued an arrest warrant for him and increased the bond from $35,000 to $250,000. Testimony continued without him.

A Liberty County Court official told ABC News Friday that McGowen is still on the lam.

In addition to his conviction and sentence, he has been hit with a $10,000 fine, according to ABC News' Houston affiliate KTRK.

Eric McGowen was one of 14 adults accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting an 11-year-old Texas girl. McGowen and 13 other adults are accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting the young girl over a three-month period in 2010. Six juvenile suspects have also been charged.

McGowen was the first defendant to face trial.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug302012

Missing Defendant in Texas Gang Rape Case Found Guilty

Comstock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND, Texas) -- A defendant who vanished from his Texas gang rape trial has been found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Eric McGowen was not present for his conviction Thursday. He took off during a court break on Wednesday and the Liberty County Sheriff's Office told ABC News Thursday that they are still looking for him.

McGowen was out of jail on bond during the trial, but after his disappearance Judge Mark Morefield issued an arrest warrant for him and increased the bond from $35,000 to $250,000. Testimony continued without him.

The Liberty County Sheriff's Office told ABC News Thursday that they still have not found McGowen.

McGowen, 20, and 13 other adults are accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting an 11-year-old Texas girl over a three-month period in 2010. Six juvenile suspects have also been charged.

McGowen was the first defendant to face trial in a Liberty County court.

McGowen disappeared from the courthouse after a tearful testimony from the now-13-year-old victim. Her testimony included the showing of a graphic video of one of the assaults, according to KTRK.

The alleged assaults occurred in Cleveland, Tex., a town about 60 miles northeast of Houston.

The girl testified under a pseudonym since she is a minor and the victim of alleged sexual assaults.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys did not comment on the disappearance due to a court-issued gag order placed on those involved in the case.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug302012

Defendant in Texas Gang Rape Case Vanishes From Trial

Comstock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND, Texas) -- A Texas gang rape trial resumed Thursday without the defendant present after he vanished during a court break on Wednesday.

Authorities are searching for one of the 20 men accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting an 11-year-old Texas girl after he took off on the first day of the trial.

Eric McGowen and 13 other adults are accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting the young girl over a three-month period in 2010. Six juvenile suspects have also been charged.

McGowen, 20, is the first defendant to face trial in a Liberty County court.

McGowen disappeared from the courthouse after a tearful testimony from the now 13-year-old victim. Her testimony included the showing of a graphic video of one of the assaults, according to ABC News' Houston affiliate KTRK.

The alleged assaults occurred in Cleveland, Tex., a town about 60 miles northeast of Houston.

The girl testified under a pseudonym since she is a minor and the victim of alleged sexual assaults.

McGowen is out of jail on bond during the trial, but after his disappearance Judge Mark Morefield increased the bond from $35,000 to $250,000 and testimony continued without him. Authorities from the Liberty County Sheriff's Office are searching for McGowen.

The sheriff's office told ABCNews.com today that they still have not found McGowen.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys did not comment on the disappearance due to a court-issued gag order placed on those involved in the case.

During her one-hour testimony, the victim told the court that she met the suspects on the street and at high school football games, according to KTRK. She told the court about two incidents in the fall of 2010 when she was sexually assaulted by McGowen and the other suspects at two houses and an abandoned trailer while people took videos of the assaults.

The girl testified that she was sexually assaulted by more people than she could remember, according to KTRK.

The district attorney asked her, "How many people violated you that day? More than five?" She replied, "Yes, sir."

"More than 10?" he asked. "Yes, sir," she said.

He continued, "More than 20?" The girl paused before replying, "Probably."

She also testified that McGowen assaulted her with a beer bottle during the attack.

A jury of seven women and five men was shown photos of the crime scene, including images of a room littered with condom wrappers, undergarments and blood, according to KTRK.

McGowen's defense attorneys argued that none of that evidence could be directly linked to him and said that the video does not show McGowen assaulting the girl.  

ABC News previously reported that Cleveland police began investigating the case in December of 2010 after cellphone video showing the alleged attacks circulated among students at Cleveland schools, according to court documents. The video shows the girl engaged in sexual acts with several men.

The girl told authorities that she was asked if she wanted to ride around with three of the defendants the weekend after Thanksgiving. The girl, described as a straight A student by those who know her, rode with the young men to a blue house with white trim, according to court documents.

Throughout the night, numerous men came to the house and later an abandoned trailer to have sex with the girl, according to court documents.

The video surfaced because some of the girl's attackers used their cellphones to take photographs and to film the assaults.

The girl said that the men told her they "would have some girls 'beat her up' or she would not be taken back to her residence" if she didn't have sex with them, according to court documents.

McGowen is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar102011

Gang Rape of 11-Year-Old Girl Sparks Racial Tensions in Texas Town

ABC News(CLEVELAND, Texas) -- The alleged gang rape of an 11-year-old girl by at least 18 boys and young men has sparked shame and outrage in a tiny Texas town, but it has also stirred racial tensions that threaten to split the East Texas hamlet.

All of the defendants arrested are African-American and the girl is Hispanic.

The hardscrabble town of Cleveland, which is 45 miles from Houston, has fewer than 8,000 residents and since the saw mill closed the biggest employers are Wal-Mart and a nearby prison. In a town this small, everyone is a neighbor, but that small town ambience is being severely strained.

The rape allegedly occurred last November, and the list of suspects has been growing as arrests keep coming. It's not clear whether more arrests are in the works.

The suspects range in age from 14 to 26, include stars on the high school's basketball team as well as the son of a school board member.

But as the investigation drags on, the shock and indignation has been tinged with an undercurrent of racial tension.

"I feel sorry for the little girl. I feel sorry for everyone involved...the city is in turmoil," Inez Dickerson said.

Dickerson, 68, is the great-grandmother of one of the defendants in the case. Her grandson has not been publicly identified by police because he is a minor.

Dickerson remembers when her great-grandson called to tell her the crime he's accused of committing.

"When I got on the phone, he was crying. He said, 'Granny, I've been accused of something. I'm scared,'" Dickerson said. "He's pretty tore up about it."

"I'm not going to play the race card on this because my grandson and all the rest were very young men and they could have given a second thought on this," Dickerson said.

While Dickerson believes the flaring of racial tensions isn't warranted, others disagree.

Houston community activist Quanell X will host a town hall meeting Thursday evening called "What's the real truth behind the rape allegations?"

"Every adult male that had sex with this child should go to prison, I don't care what the color is. But I do not believe black males are the only ones that had contact with this young child," said Quanell X, the leader of Houston's New Black Panther Party. "It appears to me there's only been the selective prosecution of one community, which is African American."

Quannell X alleges the rally has been moved from a church to a community center because, "The church received some death threats." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio