A case involving 20 people who allegedly raped a young girl in Texas was placed under a gag order, ABC News reported. (Photo : Reuters)
A man accused of participating in repeated sexual assault of a young Latina girl in 2010 disappeared from court on Wednesday, ABC News reported.
Eric McGowen, along with 13 adults and 6 juveniles, allegedly assaulted the girl over a three-month period when she was only 11 years-old. McGowen, 20, disappeared during a courthouse break forcing Judge Mark Morefield to increase his bond from $35,000 to $250,000. The 20-year-old is the first defendant to face trial in the case.
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According to ABC News, the alleged assaults happened in Cleveland, Texas, a small town about 60 miles northeast of Houston.
The victim, now 13, testified on Wednesday for nearly an hour, ABC- affiliate KTRT reported. During her testimony, the girl described two incidents in the fall of 2010 when she was sexually assaulted by McGowen and others while people shot videos of the assault.
KTRK reported that the victim was asked by the district attorney if she had been violated by more than five people, to which she responded, "Yes, sir." The district attorney continued, "More than 20?" The victim then paused before answering, "Probably."
The jury, comprised of seven women and five men, was then shown photos and a video of the assault, KTRK reported.
Cleveland police began investigating the case in December 2010 after a cellphone video of the alleged attacks made its way among Cleveland students. ABC News reported that eight of the 20 defendants, including the six juveniles, have plead guilty.
According to Fox News Latino, most of the adult defendants are charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child but four are charged with continuous abuse of a child.
The alleged crimes have caused racial tension in the town of Cleveland. ABC News reported that all defendants are African-American, while the victim is Latino. The great-grandmother of one of the juvenile defendants told ABC News, "I feel sorry for the little girl. I feel sorry for everyone involved...the city is in turmoil."
The case against McGowen will continue despite his disappearance.