March 29, 2011— -- A gang of teen boys are accused of savagely raping an 11-year-old girl they lured from a California shopping mall and brutalized in the dank men's room of a nearby park, police said.
The oldest of the alleged attackers is Michael Sykes, 19, who was arrested Monday following a two-week manhunt. He is charged with rape, sodomy and assault of a minor.
Sykes is the oldest and last charged member of a group of seven other teens who police say are all members of a local street gang known as the South Side Mafia.
The March 10 rape may have been part of a perverse gang initiation rite, according to police who said the teens would be further prosecuted on gang-enhanced charges and could be charged as adults.
Police say the girl was lured to Victoriano Park in Moreno Valley, Calif., by an older girl, who she may have known and who may have been working for the gang. The older girl has also been charged for abetting the commission of rape.
The seven other gang members, aged 14 to 17, were arrested soon after the 11-year-old girl came forward to report the crime. Police say they did not initially make news of the crime public so as not to endanger the investigation.
On Monday, the Riverside County Sheriff announced they were looking for Sykes, believing he had fled to Los Angeles. He was arrested later that day.
Sykes and the other boys do not yet have attorneys, police said.
The police have not identified the girl or the accused minor assailants.
It is unknown whether the victim knew the young men, said Cpl. Courtney Donowho, spokeswoman for the Riverside County Sheriff.
Donowho said police do not believe the boys photographed the scene as has happened in other recent gang rape cases.
The incident follows several similar high-profile group sexual assaults.
In February, 13-year-old from Banning, Calif., reported being held down and assaulted by two boys also at a park.
Earlier this month the alleged rape of an 11-year-old girl from Cleveland, Texas by 18 men and boys ranging in age from 14 to 26, sparked national outrage.
Teens Gang Rape 11-Year-Old Girl
In 2009, a 15-year-old high school student was gang raped on school grounds during a homecoming dance. Police in Richmond, Calif., believe as many as 20 people watched or participated in the assault that lasted more than two hours, with some photographing or recording the attacks.