Generic picture to illustrate child protection week. 30 August 2005. THE AGE NEWS Picture by JOHN DONEGAN (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images)
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Five teenagers are facing a staggering 205-count indictment in connection to the rapes of two girls in Buffalo, New York, last year. One of those girls was just 11 years old, and the other was kidnapped for several hours before she escaped and was discovered walking barefoot, according to a Tuesday statement by the Erie County District Attorney’s Office.
“It’s the biggest case that anyone can remember,” District Attorney John Flynn told the Buffalo News.
Prosecutors said that the first rape took place last September, when three teenagers—two 19-year-olds and a 13-year-old—raped an 11-year-old who was home alone in Buffalo. When the victim’s mother arrived home, the three teenagers allegedly stole a cell phone and ran. The victim ended up at the hospital.
“This is extremely graphic, and I am not going to publicly state exactly what occurred to this child,” Flynn said.
About two months later, in November 2020, one of the 19-year-old teens involved in the alleged September rape, as well as a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old, picked up a 16-year-old girl. They drove the girl to a park and raped her there, according to prosecutors. They then picked up the other 19-year-old from the alleged September rape, as well as another person who’s referred to only as an unnamed “adult defendant” in prosecutors’ statement about the case. They then allegedly raped the victim again.
Finally, they drove the victim to a third location, where, according to prosecutors, “they forcibly engaged in sexual intercourse and sexual contact with the victim.” The victim was then held in a garage for hours until she was able to escape. She, too, was ultimately taken to the hospital.
The ages of both the alleged perpetrators and victims may seem striking, but out of all age demographics, young people are at the highest risks of being sexually assaulted. Fifteen percent of all victims are between the ages of 12 and 17, while 54 percent are between 18 and 34 years old, according to RAINN, the preeminent anti-sexual assault group in the United States. One out of every three female rape victims experiences rape for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17, while one in eight say it happened before the age of 10, per the CDC.
The counts in the Buffalo case include sexual assault, rape, kidnapping, and child endangerment. If the accused are convicted on all charges, the three adult defendants are facing the prospect of spending life in prison. One of them—the unnamed defendant—remained at large as of Tuesday.
The 13- and 14-year-old could receive a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
“These five teenagers are accused of committing two of the most brazen and violent sexual assaults that have been prosecuted by my office’s Special Victims Unit, resulting in one of the highest count indictments that has been handed down by a Grand Jury in recent years in Erie County,” Flynn said in a statement. “I am shocked by the ages of these young men who are accused of raping these two children.”