Seventh Arrest Made in California Teen's Gang Rape

A 21-year-old Richmond, Calif., man was apprehended by police today.

ByABC News
October 27, 2009, 10:37 AM

Nov. 3, 2009— -- A seventh suspect was arrested today in the brutal gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside her homecoming dance last month.

A 21-year-old man was picked up by heavily armed police at Richmond, Calif., home early today, according to Richmond Police Lt. Mark Gagan. A special tactical team was used to apprehend the suspect, according to Gagan, because the "brutality and severity of the crime" made him a "high risk suspect." He surrendered without incident.

The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, is being held in lieu of $1.2 million bail and is being interrogated by police.

According to Gagan, the individual's arrest warrant alleges rape in concert, sexual battery and penetration with a foreign object in concert.

"You can tell by the number of felonies and how high his bail is that we believe that this individual played a significant role in the rape," Gagan told

Richmond Police have now arrested seven people in connection with the assault, but have only six in custody.

Salvador Rodriquez, 21, was released from custody late last week due to "insufficient evidence," according to Gagan.

Even with the latest arrest, Gagan said that still more suspects are being sought out in connection to the case.

"This case is far from over," said Gagan. "We are still waiting for the analysis of the DNA evidence which takes several weeks."

The parents of the 15-year-old California girl who was sexually assaulted by as many as 10 men and teens outside a high school homecoming dance Oct. 24 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.

"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 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," said Gagan.

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.

Four others 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 suspects include Manuel Ortega, 19, Marcelles James Peter, 17, Abdallah Morael, 16, and Cody Ray Smith, 15.

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.

Lights have since been added to the area, according to ABC's KGO-TV in San Francisco.

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

A $20,000 reward is being offered by the Richmond Police Department to anyone who can provide information leading to more arrests in the case.

The victim of the attack is a devout Christian who attended church three times a week and whose friends say had been looking forward to the homecoming dance for weeks.

Kami Baker, one of the victim's close friends, said the girl came to the dance clad in a sparkling purple gown, diamond necklace and matching silver shoes.

"When we walked in the dance together she said, 'I can't wait to get my dance on!'" Baker, 16, told

But what began as a night the teen girls were looking forward to, soon became a nightmare.

"She was perfectly sober at the dance," said Baker, who saw the victim just 15 minutes before she left the dance. "She was bubbly, and kept saying how happy she was to be at the dance."

She described her friend as an outgoing student who was enrolled in an honors English class. Although she had wanted to join the school's photography club, her parents didn't like her to stay after school and her church commitment took up much of her time.