STICKNEY, Ill. (CBS) — Four young men have been charged with gang-raping a 14-year-old girl in west suburban Stickney and recording part of the brutal attack with a cell phone camera.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the attack began as a social media rendezvous between the girl and one of the alleged rapists.
Alex Picallo, 16; Majeed Khalifeh, 18; and Jonathan Leanos, 19 – all of Stickney – and Vicente Hernandez, 22, of Cicero, all were charged with two counts each of aggravated criminal sexual assault in the incident at Leanos’ Stickney home Saturday, according to Cook County prosecutors.
Picallo was ordered held on $500,000 bail Tuesday. Khalifeh and Leanos appeared in court in Bridgeview on Wednesday and were ordered held in lieu of $600,000 and $750,000 bail, respectively, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said. All are charged as adults.
Hernandez was ordered held on $600,000 bond. He appeared combative and defiant as he was driven from the Stickney Police Department Jail to his bond hearing.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, the father of two young girls appeared to throw gang signs and extend his middle finger at news cameras, despite being handcuffed in the back of a squad car. His brother later said Hernandez is innocent.
“He’s probably very upset because people think he’s something that he really isn’t,” Felix Hernandez told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman.
Stickney Police Detective Mark Kozelka told Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller that he has seen the video that the defendants allegedly made of the attack.
“After seeing the video, there’s no doubt in my mind that what happened is what she alleged actually happened.”
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports
Police called the assault disgusting and outrageous.
“It’s disturbing,” said Kozelka, “multiple times, multiple offenders, over a long period of time – it’s just alarming.”
Leanos met the victim online last summer, and they met several times before Leanos took the victim to his house Saturday, Simonton said.
The alleged assault happened in the 3900 block of Wesley Avenue. Leanos, who met the girl on MySpace in the summer of 2010, allegedly asked the girl to have sex with him.
When she refused, he allegedly took her cell phone, raped her and then took the girl to pick up Khalifeh and Hernandez, then returned to his home where Picallo met them, authorities said.
The four defendants then allegedly raped the girl repeatedly, filming part of the attack with her cell phone camera.
But, Jonathan Leanos’ older brother, Jose, defended the teen.
“He was getting a job; he was turning himself back around,” Jose Leanos said.
Jose Leanos said the cell phone video would prove his brother’s innocence. He said his brother initially had been excited at the prospect of having a girlfriend.
“He thought he had a girlfriend. He thought everything was good, ‘I’ve got a girlfriend! I’m in love!’” Jose Leanos said. “And now she turns around and to be like this.”
Detectives said they spoke with the victim and her family since Saturday, and she told them she doesn’t know how she’ll ever forget about the incident.
Investigators said it wasn’t a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, but a brutal crime.
But Hernandez’s defense attorney, Marco Raimondi, said the case laid out Thursday in the Bridgeview courthouse was not what it seems. He said that his client is a hard-working young father who holds down two jobs to support his girlfriend, kids and an ailing grandfather.
“I don’t think anybody should make up their minds. This is a young man who’s presumed not guilty and he’s entitled to a trial and nobody should make up their minds,” Raimondi said. “I’m not so sure that there is video evidence or what the video evidence is.”