The repeated gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas that dominated headlines this spring has returned to the spotlight once again, with the arrest of 14 men accused of assaulting the girl, the Associated Press reported.
In addition to the 14 adult men who were arrested, five more juvenile boys are expected in the state district courtroom Wednesday in Liberty, Texas.
Law enforcement was notified when a teacher heard students talking about seeing video shot on a cell phone that showed the pre-teen girl being sexually assaulted in a trailer by a group of men. This allegedly happened several times, and the men range from middle school age to 27 years old. Two of the accused are star high school athletes.
Four of the men face charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child, and most of the others have been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.
The media whirlwind surrounding the case has been aggravated by victim blaming, with some of the town’s residents saying that the girl wore makeup and looked older, as well as with racial connotations (all of the arrested suspects are black, and the girl is Hispanic). A Florida state legislator, Republican Kathleen Passidomo, said the girl “dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute” during a floor debate about dress codes for Florida students.
The girl is now 12 years old and in foster care, while her parents work with the state and attempt to regain custody.
All involved in the case are under a heavy gag order.