LIBERTY, Texas (AP) — A 13-year-old Texas girl who authorities say was repeatedly sexually assaulted by 20 men and boys during a series of attacks two years ago cried Wednesday as a video of one of the encounters was played for jurors in the first case to go to trial.
The girl, testifying under a pseudonym, told the jury that 20-year-old defendant Eric McGowen and another man charged in the case took her to a house in Cleveland, a small Southeast Texas town where all the defendants and the girl lived, in October 2010. The girl, who was an 11-year-old at the time, said she was brought into what she described as the "baby room" in the house, and that several men or boys took turns having sex with her, including McGowen.
McGowen, one of 14 adults accused of having sex with the girl during a nearly three-month span, is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors played a few minutes of a video in which they say a third man charged in the case was sexually assaulting the girl. The girl testified that McGowen was in the room at the time. The girl cried as the video was played and several jurors turned away from it.
"Did the guys just take turns with you?" prosecutor Joe Warren asked.
"Yes sir," the girl said.
Prosecutors say the girl was assaulted on at least five occasions from mid-September through early December of 2010.
Eight of the 20 defendants accused in the case have pleaded guilty, including all six juveniles. A gag order has prevented prosecutors and defense attorneys from commenting about the case.
Authorities began investigating that December after one of the girl's friends told a teacher he watched a cellphone video of her being raped in an abandoned trailer.
The case sparked outrage in Cleveland, a community of roughly 9,000 residents 45 miles northeast of Houston. Some residents drew widespread condemnation for suggesting the girl was partly responsible because they say she wore makeup, looked older than her age and wasn't properly supervised by her parents.
The case also has been complicated by a belief among many in the predominantly black neighborhood where several of the suspects live that the arrests were racially motivated. All of the suspects are black, while the girl is Hispanic.
The trial is being held in nearby Liberty, the county seat.
On Tuesday, McGowen was dealt a setback when state District Judge Mark Morefield ruled that prosecutors could admit as evidence a videotaped police interview of McGowen in which he admitted he and eight other men took turns having sex with the girl, sometimes two at a time, the Houston Chronicle reported.
In the video, which was played in court without the jury present, McGowen initially denied ever touching the girl, but he later broke down and told investigators she performed oral sex on him. He said one of the others used a beer bottle on her.
Some of those present for the alleged attack made videos or took cellphone photos, McGowen said. Reporters weren't allowed in the courtroom when that footage was played.
McGowen's lawyer, Matthew Poston, sought unsuccessfully to have McGowen's statements to investigators deemed inadmissible, arguing that police had an arrest warrant for his client but hadn't served it when he was brought to the station for questioning, the paper reported.
Warren pointed out that McGowen was advised of his rights on video before he was questioned.
One of the two adults who pleaded guilty in the case received a 15-year prison term and the other is awaiting sentencing. The six juveniles each received 7-year prison terms that were suspended, putting them on probation for that amount of time.
Most of the adult defendants in the case face charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child, while four face a charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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