RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio de Janeiro police said Friday they're asking for charges to be filed against seven people in the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl. The case has made international headlines because videos showing men posing with the unconscious victim were shared on social media.
The May 21 attack, which took place in an abandoned in Rio's Morro do Borao slum, shocked Brazil and became a symbol of the Latin American nation's problem of violence against women.
The officer overseeing the investigation, Cristiana Bento, said evidence collected so far shows that three men and a minor took part in the actual gang rape, not 33 people as the victim initially suggested. Bento said she believes the victim's statement was a "false memory," perhaps the result of her drugged state during the attack or the trauma suffered.
Bento said one video that circulated online may have confused the victim. In it, a suspect says: "This one here, she got pregnant by more than 30," gesturing toward the naked and unconscious teen.
The videos and other material that appeared on social media and message sharing sites alerted police to what happened and helped them in their investigation and to identify suspects.
Along with four men authorities believe were directly involved in the attack, Bento has asked for charges to be brought against two other people for allegedly helping circulate the videos online. She is also seeking charges against a gang leader in the Rio de Janeiro slum where the rape took place for allegedly giving the attack his blessing.
Two suspects have been arrested and the rest remain at large.
Charges of raping a vulnerable victim carry a maximum 15-year sentence and making a pornographic video of a minor carries a maximum 8-year sentence. Distributing such videos carries a 6-year maximum sentence.
Bento said she hopes that those convicted in the case receive stiff sentences so an example is set.
The teen is in a witness protection program.