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Alleged gang rape of girl, 11, ignites firestorm in Texas community

By the CNN Wire Staff
Police say 13 adults and five juveniles have been arrested related in their investigation.
Police say 13 adults and five juveniles have been arrested related in their investigation.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 13 adults and 5 juveniles have been charged for the alleged sexual assault
  • At a meeting, a community activist casts responsibility on the girl and her parents
  • A civic leader says that the girl and her parents are not to blame
  • She believes the case is "segregating our community" of Cleveland, Texas
RELATED TOPICS
  • Texas
  • Sexual Offenses

(CNN) -- The alleged gang rape of an 11-year-old girl has torn apart a Texas community, with some focusing on the girl and her parents as much as, if not more than, the 18 people accused of sexually assaulting her.

"It is segregating our community," Brenda Myers, the head of the Community and Children's Impact Center in Cleveland, Texas, told HLN's Vinnie Politan on Monday. "There's a lot of anger, a lot of vicious remarks toward the little girl."

This month, police said 13 adults and five juveniles have been arrested related to their investigation of an alleged rape late last year in Cleveland, a community about 50 miles northeast of Houston.

Darrell Broussard, Cleveland's assistant police chief, said that the 18 individuals charged thus far are between 14 and 27 years old.

On Thursday, Quanell X, a community activist, traveled from Houston to help stage a town hall meeting called to address rising concerns -- especially in Cleveland's African-American community -- about the case.

Among other issues, he said that the girl didn't do enough to stop the alleged assailants.

"It was not the young girl that yelled rape. Stop right there -- something is wrong, brothers and sisters," Quanell X said.

And, speaking over yells of support from the crowd, he also questioned the role of the girl's parents.

"Where was the mother? Where was the father?" he said.

Soon after that event, community activist Linda Morales defended the girl.

"This was an 11-year-old child. And no matter what she did, did not do, how she dressed, how she talked, how she acted does not matter," Morales said. "This was a brutal and savage rape."

Myers said that she knows the girl, her siblings and her parents, and the entire family was active in her organization.

"These kids are good kids," she said. "These (the girl and her siblings) were in basketball, honors society, ROTC programs. So I feel the parents were doing something right in their lives."

In addition to her distress for the girl, Myers added she also was "devastated ... that our community and people in our community are saying (this) about an 11-year-old child. It breaks my heart, it really does."

Responding to a question of whether more arrests might be forthcoming, Broussard told CNN that investigators have been alerted to "other possible persons of interest."

Those tried as adults could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted on charges of sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony in Texas, the Cleveland Police Department said in a statement.

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