Moreno Valley Gang Rape: Judge To Consider Trying Teens As Adults

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- A juvenile court judge deciding if four teenage boys should be tried as adults in the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl who was lured into a Southern California park bathroom ordered the Probation Department on Monday to prepare reports on the suspects.

Riverside County Judge Robert J. McIntyre said he wants the reports by April 25 as he considers the case against the defendants, whose ages range from 15 to 17.

The teens appeared one by one at the hearing in orange jumpsuits with their ankles and wrists bound in handcuffs.

The charges against each teen include rape, sodomy and committing the crimes to benefit a criminal gang. Three denied all of the charges through their attorneys, the equivalent of a not guilty plea in juvenile court. The fourth teen will be arraigned April 15.

Family members of the suspects declined to comment outside the courtroom. Calls to the teens' attorneys were not immediately returned.

Deputy District Attorney Lisa Loyola said the alleged group rape was horrific as presented to prosecutors.

"This was a lot of boys in a bathroom with an 11-year-old girl," Loyola said. "She didn't know any of them at all. She was new to the area ... and didn't know the culture of the area or what to look out for."

Loyola said the Probation Department will consider the defendants' age, whether they've been in trouble before, and the severity of the crime in the report to the judge. She said attorneys for two of the teens are also requesting further evaluation of their clients' mental status to determine whether they're capable of understanding of the charges against them.

The defendants are among a gang of six teenage juveniles and a 19-year-old man accused of attacking the girl March 10 in a bathroom at Victoriano Park in Moreno Valley, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

Information about the case was not released to the public until last week, when the final suspect was taken into custody.

Prosecutors said an older girl associated with the gang lured the victim into a park bathroom so she could be raped. The park is less than 100 yards from an elementary school.

Authorities could not say if the girl associated with the gang or the two other minors had been charged because of laws protecting juveniles in court matters, said John Hall, district attorney spokesman.

The adult suspect, Michael Sykes, 19, of Moreno Valley, was charged March 30 with six felonies, including kidnapping for rape, four counts of aggravated sexual assault on a child and committing a crime to benefit a criminal street gang. He also faces several sex offense and kidnapping enhancements.

His arraignment is set for April 13.

Sykes could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted, Hall said.

It was the second time in a month that authorities say a little girl was sexually attacked in a park in Riverside County.

In February, three 13-year-old boys were arrested after a middle school student told officers one boy sexually assaulted her while the two others held her down at Banning's Roosevelt Williams Park.

The boys and the alleged victim attended Nicolette Middle School, and investigators said it wasn't a gang-related attack.

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