Gang Rape of 11-Year-Old Girl Sparks Racial Tensions in Texas Town

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Cleveland police began investigating the rape 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.

The girl has been removed from the custody of her parents.

Racial Tensions in Cleveland, Texas

Brenda Myers knows the girl and her family. Myers runs the Community and Children's Impact Center in Cleveland, one of the few programs for Cleveland's youth.

The 11-year-old girl and her two sisters frequently attended meetings held by Myers' organization. Myers said the girl was a happy and talkative girl, but something abruptly changed last October.

"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 girl's mother was recently in the hospital and her father is an unemployed construction worker, Myers said. She said that the family cares deeply about the children.

"The mother was in tears. She feels extremely bad about what happened. She's devastated for her family," Myers said.

"It's becoming a black and white issue because it happened over in the quarters. It's segregating our community again," Myers said. "The reaction is anger, devastation."

Lance Blackwell helps organize weekly prayer sessions for the Cleveland Prayer Center. Recently, an impromptu prayer session included both defendants and family members of the girl.

"It's clear these family members and friends know one another and are in a deep amount of pain," Blackwell said. "The young men that were involved were very emotional...obviously we didn't discuss details, that wasn't what it was about."

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