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 (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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