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Four charged in gang rape of 15-year-old Bay Area student [Updated]

October 28, 2009 |  6:45 pm
Rape and robbery charges were filed this afternoon against four suspects in the gang rape of a 15-year-old Bay Area student who struggled against her attackers as more than a dozen people passed by but did nothing.

The girl was repeatedly raped, beaten and eventually robbed Saturday night at Richmond High School after she left a homecoming dance, according to police. The crime has sparked outrage and focused national attention on Richmond, a city of 104,000 northeast of San Francisco. City of Richmond

Manuel Ortega, 19, was charged with assault by force likely to produce great bodily injury and rape while acting in concert, said Dara Cashman, Contra Costa County senior deputy district attorney. [Updated 9:27 p.m.: An earlier version stated incorrectly that Ortega was charged with rape with a foreign object while acting in concert.]

She said three minors were also charged but declined to release their names. Two of them, 15 and 17, were charged with rape with a foreign object while acting in concert. A 16-year-old was charged with robbery and rape by a foreign object while acting in concert, Cashman said.

All four suspects were also charged with special enhancements that could result in life sentences if they are convicted, according to Cashman.

A fifth suspect, Salvador Rodriguez, 21, was arrested in connection with the crime but was not charged.

Cashman declined to discuss to discuss any pending charges, citing the ongoing investigation. 

Police said today that more suspects will be taken into custody.

"We still have more arrests to make and a lot of work to do," said Lt. Mark Gagan of the Richmond Police Department.

The department, he said, was pleased that prosecutors filed charges quickly.

"This woman's life is ruined by this unnecessary act," he said.

Police said that at least seven males took part in the rape, which began about 9:30 p.m. and lasted two to 2-1/2 hours. Some of the attackers allegedly laughed and took photos of the girl as she was being raped, according to police.

Authorities were finally alerted after a student overheard people talking about a girl being raped in a dark alley behind the campus. Cashman said bystanders who witnessed the attack could be prosecuted only if their actions aided the crime.

"Generally," she said, "just observing a crime is not an offense."

-- Robert J. Lopez