A group of fourteen defendants accused of sexual crimes against an 11-year old Texas girl are expected in court today, facing a series of sexual assault charges. Fourteen men, along with five juveniles are being charged for crimes that occurred late last year.
Four of the accused face charges of continuous sexual abuse of a child, while the majority of the men have been charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child. All defendants are expected to appear in the Liberty, Texas courtroom today for status updates, according to the Associated Press.
Cleveland police began investigating the case in December of last year after cell phone video showing the alleged sex attack started circulating among students at Cleveland schools, according to court documents. The video shows the girl engaged in sexual acts with several men.
The girl told authorities that the weekend after Thanksgiving she was asked if she wanted to ride around with three of the defendants in the case. The girl, described as a straight A student by those who know her, rode with the young men to a blue house with white trim, according to court documents.
As the night unfolded, numerous men came to the house and later an abandoned trailer to have sex with the girl, according to court documents.
The video surfaced because some of the girl's attackers used their cell phones to take photographs and to film the assaults.
The girl, who has not been identified because she is a minor and the alleged victim of a sex crime, said that she was told by the men that they "would have some girls 'beat her up' or she would not be taken back to her residence" if she didn't have sex with them, according to court documents.
When a relative of one of the defendants was heard returning to the blue house, the group hurriedly moved to an abandoned trailer. The girl left behind her bra and panties, according to the court documents.
Since the alleged crimes took place, the small southeast Texas town has experienced racial tension
The alleged criminals now facing charges are all African-American. The victim is Hispanic. Following the alleged crimes, racial tensions in the small south east Texas town have grown. "I feel sorry for the little girl. I feel sorry for everyone involved...the city is in turmoil," Inez Dickerson told ABCNews.com in March, the great-grandmother of one of the unnamed juveniles involved in the case.
Most of the men who face charges are free on bond. One of the accused men, Marcus Porchia, 26, has been implicated in another unrelated case for sexual assault.
A gag order was issued in March, prohibiting witnesses and individuals involved with the proceedings from speaking out about the case.
Prior to the gag order being issued and approved by a Liberty judge, Brenda Myers, a woman who runs the Community and Children's Impact Center in Cleveland and knew the girl and her family told ABCNews.com that she saw an abrupt change in the 11-year-old, who was once talkative and happy.
"This little girl was always hugging and loving and in October, she was really, really quiet," Myers said.
When Myers asked the girl what was bothering her, she said, "It's just something I can't tell you," Myers said.
When Myers heard the news of the alleged crime, she cried.
"I got angry and then...thought where were the parents?" she said.
"The mother was in tears. She feels extremely bad about what happened. She's devastated for her family," Myers said.