It's a brutal crime that has traumatized the city of Trenton, N.J., and made headlines across the country and around the globe. Two men and three boys were charged Saturday with gang-raping a 7-year-old girl.
"I think everyone, not just in Trenton, in New Jersey, but across this nation and the world is shocked, outraged and horrified by the barbaric act of monster, pervert rapists and what happened to an innocent angel," Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer said.
Among those arrested are Gregory Joseph Leary, 20, and Timear Lewis, 19. Three underage boys, the youngest 13, have also been arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault and child endangerment.
Police say the 7-year-old girl was worried about her 15-year-old stepsister's safety, so she tagged along to a party March 28 at the crime-ridden Rowan Towers apartment complex in Trenton. Once at the party, investigators say the 15-year-old sold herself to have sex with the men and boys, then allowed them to pay to touch the younger girl. They say the touching turned to forcible sex, with at least seven men raping the 7-year-old.
"We do believe that the 7-year-old was held against her will by the individuals and that's when the sexual assault took place," Trenton police captain Joseph Juniak said.
"They said that they would kill her if she screamed and it's crazy," a teenage girl who lives near the crime scene told a television reporter. Another neighbor said, "Lock 'em up, throw away the key. Seriously. 7-years-old?"
The 15-year-old stepsister has also been arrested and charged for her role in allowing the sexual assault to happen. She's also been charged with promoting prostitution, aggravated sexual assault and other crimes.
Police say more arrests are likely, but residents have been slow to come forward with information, scared of gang retaliation. Rowan Towers is in a neighborhood near downtown Trenton that's riddled with abandoned homes and high-crime rates. Some neighbors have given helpful information to police.
Mayor Palmer said, "It's been said by someone far wiser than me that the only way that evil can survive is if good people do nothing. Certainly in this instance good people came forward to try to get justice for this innocent 7-year-old angel.
"But I also want to say this: We're not finished. Because everyone that was responsible is still not arrested, and the police will not rest until we get every individual that's involved in this."
Palmer is asking the city of Trenton to embrace the victim's family.
"They're going through a lot," he said.