Thursday, March 10, 2011

Video Images Of Moments From Hell Lead To 18 Arrests

An 11-year-old girl endured sexual assaults by 18 people, 13 of whom were adults 17 to 27 years of age

Cleveland, TX - The shadowy figures play across video screens, capturing in graphic detail some unspeakable moments that took place over the Thanksgiving weekend.

When school officials first heard of the cell phone video that was circulating among students in this deep piney woods community 45 miles northeast of Houston, they confiscated students' phones, searching for the horrible footage, but they were unsuccessful.

In questioning the victim of the alleged gang rape and her mother, they learned the assaults took place off campus.

They turned the matter over to police for further investigation on December 1.

What investigators discovered – a video depiction of both juveniles and adults gang-raping an 11-year-old girl in a squalid, filthy house trailer next door to a Baptist church – has led to the arrests of 18 people during the past month.

Five of them are juveniles and 13 are adults ranging in age from 17 to 27 years of age.

Vague indictments say the child was attacked by at least three individuals on Nov. 28, but records do not clarify how many individuals are alleged to have attacked the girl that night. Neither police, nor Liberty County District Attorney Michael Little will comment on the ongoing investigation.

A probable cause affidavit alleges that the girl was first assaulted at a house near the trailer, which was severely damaged, then abandoned in the wake of Hurricane Ike. When the aunt of one of the assailants returned home unexpectedly, they all ran away in fear, including the victim.

A short time later, they regrouped at the trailer, and the gang rape resumed, according to the affidavit.

The girl has told authorities she was threatened with a beating if she did not submit to the multiple sexual assaults.

Court records allege the child was attacked by multiple assailants on three separate occasions last year.

This case compares with that of Benjamin Alan Morrison, 39, who will appear in a pre-trial hearing Friday, March 11 at 8:30 a.m. in State Criminal District Court 19 at Waco to answer charges of continuing sexual abuse of a female under 14 years of age and 8 counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child. A conviction for any of these charges could lead to a sentence of 25 years to life without possibility of parole. Over a 5-year period, according to allegations in the indictment, Mr. Morrison repeatedly raped the young girl while a student at Texas State Technical College. Police from the college's department developed the case on Mr. Morrison and arrested him.

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