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Crime & Courts

Boy Indicted in Rape of 8-Year-Old Girl

A 14-year-old boy has been indicted in connection with the rape of an 8-year-old Liberian refugee at a Phoenix apartment complex, authorities said Saturday.

Police say four boys, also from Liberia, lured the girl to an empty storage shed July 16 with the promise of chewing gum. Investigators say the boys restrained her and took turns sexually assaulting her.

The incident ignited an international outcry after it was reported the girl's father said he was ashamed of her. A family pastor later said that was a misunderstanding.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced Saturday that a county grand jury indicted the 14-year-old on one count of kidnapping, one count of sexual assault, one count of attempted sexual conduct with a minor and four counts of sexual conduct with a minor.

A message seeking comment was left Saturday with the boy's public defender.

Prosecutors have charged the 14-year-old as an adult, while the other boys — ages 9, 10 and 13 — have been charged in juvenile court with sexual assault. The 10- and 13-year-olds also have been charged with kidnapping.

All four boys were arrested July 21. Their identities are being withheld because of their ages.

The girl is now in foster care.

In some parts of Africa, women often are blamed for being raped for enticing men or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Girls who are raped often are shunned by their families.

In recent years, Liberia has made efforts to combat rape under Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's leadership. She has sought to dispel the stigma associated with sexual assault by publicly acknowledging that she was herself the victim of attempted rape during the country's civil war.

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