Eighteen young men and teenage boys allegedly gang raped an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, Texas, not just once but multiple times, according to court documents.
The suspects have been arrested in connection with the alleged rapes that have sparked shame and outrage in the tiny Texas town, 45 miles from Houston. They range in age from 14 to 26 and include stars on the high school's basketball team, as well as the son of a school board member.
The alleged sexual assaults occurred between Sept. 15 and Dec. 1, according to documents obtained by the Cleveland Advocate.
Additionally, four of the defendants have been charged with a more serious felony of continuous sexual abuse of a child because they are accused of assaulting the girl on two or more dates, according to the court documents.
Cleveland Police began investigating the alleged rapes in December after cell-phone video showing the alleged sex attacks started circulating among students at Cleveland schools, according to court documents. The video allegedly shows the girl engaged in sexual acts with several men.
The investigation, which is still ongoing, has stirred racial tensions in the town. All the defendants are African-Americans and the girl is Hispanic.
The suspects' mugshots have been posted on a local white supremacist website. One site instructs members to "get the blood going."
Things have gotten so tense that Judge Mark Morefield implemented a gag order March 15. The gag order bars lawyers, police and any potential witnesses from speaking about the case.
Prior to the court-ordered silence around the case, the New Black Panther Party of Houston staged a rally in the town of fewer than 8,000 people.
"Listen to me good, you stand by your children and don't let them convince you to walk away and take a plea deal for some trumped up charges," Quanell X told family members of the defendants at a rally on March 10.
Two days later, the group Mujeres Unidas held a news conference in support of the girl who has not been identified because she is a minor and the alleged victim of a sex crime.
"I feel sorry for the little girl," Inez Dickerson said in an interview with ABCNews.com Mar. 9. "I feel sorry for everyone involved ... the city is in turmoil."
Dickerson, 68, is the great-grandmother of one of the defendants in the case. Her great-grandson has not been publicly identified by police because he is a minor.
Dickerson remembers when her great-grandson called to tell her about the crime he's accused of committing.
"When I got on the phone, he was crying. He said, 'Granny, I've been accused of something. I'm scared,'" Dickerson said. "He's pretty tore up about it."
Since the saw mill closed in the hardscrabble town of Cleveland, the biggest employers are Wal-Mart and a nearby prison. Everyone is a neighbor but the small town ambience has been strained.
"I'm not going to play the race card on this because my grandson and all the rest were very young men and they could have given a second thought on this," Dickerson said.
Brenda Myers, who runs the Community and Children's Impact Center in Cleveland, one of the few programs for youth, said she knows the girl and her family.