Pastor of California Gang Rape Victim Speaks Out

Rev. Jim Wheeler hopes this incident will bring change to the high school.

ByABC News
October 27, 2009, 10:37 AM

Nov. 2, 2009— -- The parents of the 15-year-old California girl who was brutally gang raped outside a high school homecoming dance last week released a statement this weekend asking that the incident provoke change at the school.

"Please do not respond to this tragic event by promoting hatred or by causing more pain," said the statement from the victim's parents, read by Rev. Jim Wheeler of the First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Calif, according to ABC's KGO-TV in San Francisco.

"We've had enough violence already in this place," read Wheeler. "If you need to express your outrage please channel your anger into positive action."

Late last week, police arrested a suspect who they believed played a "significant role" in the gang rape of the teenager but also released another suspect who had been in custody for several days.

There are currently five suspects, ranging in age from 15 to 19, in police custody.

Late Thursday night, police arrested 18-year-old Jose Carlos Montano in connection to the rape.

"Montano played a significant role in what happened to our victim and his arrest was an important one," Richmond Police Department Lt. Mark Gagan told

Gagan said detectives believe Montano had a "bigger role than others" in the two-and-a-half hour gang rape outside Richmond High School's homecoming dance on Oct. 24.

Montano, who is being held on $1.3 million bail, is charged with rape, rape in concert with force and other charges, according to Gagan.

"We will be going after a couple, if not several, people who are implicated in this crime," said Gagan. "We know there were more people back there with our victim."

Another suspect, Salvador Rodriquez, 21, was arrested Tuesday night but was never charged by police. He will be released from a county jail later today, according to ABC's KGO-TV in San Francisco.Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Dara Cashman said there was not enough evidence against Rodriquez to charge him, according to KGO.

The arrest of Montano and the release of Rodriguez brings the total number of people charged in the attack to five. Four have been formally charged including three juveniles who will be tried as adults. Prosecutors have said they will seek life sentences for the suspects. Because they are being tried as adults, ABC News has decided to identify the suspects.

The gang rape took place in a remote part of the school's grounds while the homecoming dance was taking place. The area, according to a close friend of the victim, was known as a secluded area where couples at the school would often congregate.

As many as 20 bystanders are believed to have watched without intervening and may have even filmed or photographed the attack.

Montano joins five other suspects who police arrested earlier this week.

Manuel Ortega, a 19-year-old former Richmond High School student, is charged with robbery, assault causing great bodily injury, rape in concert [gang rape] and rape with violence, according to Gagan. The DA's office is likely to ask for a life sentence of Ortega, whose bail has been set at $1.2 million.