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Some locals defend accused in rape of 11-year-old girl in Texas

By Kathleen Blanchard     Mar 13, 2011 in Crime
The rape of an 11-year-old girl has drawn attention on several levels. One is from the rape itself that took place in November and another is for the seeming defense of the men and boys involved in the act that no one denies happened.
Eighteen men and boys have been arrested for allegedly raping an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas, reported March 7 in the Houston Chronicle.
Attorney James D. Evans III, who is representing three of the defendants, insists, "This is not a case of a child who was enslaved or taken advantage of”.
The girl’s family is also being asked to relocate for safety reasons and many in the town of Cleveland are blaming the girl and her family for what happened.
The notion that it is the fault of the adolescent has even escalated to the point where a town hall meeting was held March 10 with the intent of discussing concerns over the investigation. The rape occurred November 2010. Instead, CBS news reports the meeting turned into a forum placing blame for the rape on the 11-year-old victim.
Fox news documents the following comment from Angie Woods, who lives in Houston but was raised in Cleveland, Texas:
“She lied about her age. Them boys didn't rape her. She wanted this to happen. I'm not taking nobody's side, but if she hadn't put herself in that predicament, this would have never happened."
No one denied the assault happened but they are claiming the girl dresses provocatively and may have lied about her age, seemingly in defense of the rapists. Despite, appearances, the child’s mother said she still loves stuffed bears.
Other adults arrested include those with criminal records and five juveniles. Prior to the November 28 attack, the girl was reportedly attacked two other times,on Sept. 15 and Oct. 25 2010.
Involved in the rape, that took place in a trailer bathroom, was the son of a local school board member and two star athletes at Cleveland High School who were seen on video. Some of the attackers used their cellphones to invite others to join and to take pictures and videos that later went viral in local schools.
The New York Times is also under fire from Mother Jones and Change.org, who is demanding an apology for their handling of reporting of the rape; in particular for the following:
“The case has rocked this East Texas community to its core and left many residents in the working-class neighborhood where the attack took place with unanswered questions. Among them is, if the allegations are proved, how could their young men have been drawn into such an act?”
Mother Jones takes particular exception to the notion that the men and boys were “drawn” into anything so heinous, as do many others.
Change.org has acquired 38,000 signatures so far, thanks to the efforts of Shelby Knox, the Director of Organizing, Women's Rights at Change.org.
In another segment of the Times article, titled “Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town”, journalist James McKinley quotes a local hospital worker who knows several of the defendants as saying, “These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.”
Other details from reports state the 11 year old was told she would be beaten if she didn’t disrobe and allow her attackers to proceed with the rape that all started with the girl accepting a ride around town with a 19 year old boy.
The reason the family is being asked to relocate is allegedly for their own protection. Someone has been calling the girl’s home and there are fears for the safety of the family that includes two older girls and a 9-year-old boy.
The girl is now enrolled in school outside of Cleveland in “gifted and talented’ classes.
The girl’s mother, Maria says, "These guys knew she was in middle school. You could tell that whenever you talked to her. She still loves stuffed bears."
Cleveland Texas has approximately 7000 residents and has experienced recent political upheaval from mismanagement by Council members and now on national radar.
Some people in Cleveland Texas blame the victim for the act that may have involved at least 18 rapists. An attorney for two of the defendants says the 11-year-old rape victim “was not taken advantage of.” The New York Times is also published reports that seem to suggest the same sort of blame. Others have shown their support of the girl, via social media or comments to articles.
More about Texas, Rape, 11 year old, Cleveland