Rhode Island police have arrested seven men and are hunting for another in connection with the rape of a 16-year old girl, dubbing it one of the most heinous crimes that Providence has seen in recent years.
Police say the men lured the girl to a party on Dec. 20, 2019, and gave her alcohol and marijuana before they “forced themselves” on her, Col. Hugh T. Clements Jr., chief of the Providence police, said during a news conference on Wednesday.
Police arrested Keith Erving Colon, 24; Jose Vargas, 18; Carlos Chacon, 19; Malcolm Baptista, 18; Luis A. Cabrera, 18; and Luis Luna, 19, all from Providence, as well as Richard Tarell Chester, 19, of Seekonk, on charges of assault with intent to commit sexual assault and conspiracy. Police are still searching for one other suspect, Carlos Vasquez.
The girl and her family reported the incident to police in January, when she said she remembered a man holding her down on a bed and pouring Hennessy in her mouth even after she said she felt sick from drinking and smoking at the party, the Boston Globe reported.
She said she remembered waking up naked in a bathroom shower, with about 15 men laughing and possibly taking photos of her, according to court records, the Globe reported. She then said she was taken into a bedroom where she was raped over and over.
When she awoke, a man in the room with her told her to leave. She reported having vaginal pain and cuts on her thighs and saw that her cellphone had been used to send taunting messages to her ex-boyfriend about a group of men who had sexually assaulted her while she was unconscious, according to police and court records.
Clements said after the alleged assault, a video was posted on Facebook showing the events that unfolded that night, but police did not provide specific details about what the video shows or who recorded it.
The Globe reported that the video showed the teenage girl, naked and unconscious on a bed, as men sexually assaulted her and others watched.
Police said the video, which surfaced in June, was “more than enough to see the crime and identify the culprits.”
“We’ve had some real difficult cases over the years, but this is right up there,” Clements said.
“The incident was horrifying, devastating, disturbing on so many levels to this young girl, to her family and to this community,” he said, before commending her for coming forward to report the incident.
“We always urge people to come forward, but that’s a personal choice, and I commend her, I commend her family,” he added. “Individuals who do this should be held accountable.”
The investigation has been ongoing for almost eight months, police said.
Clements said the men could face up to 20 years in prison.