Chicago police are trying to find other suspects in the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl webcast on Facebook Live that Supt. Eddie Johnson called “absolutely horrific.”
But at the same time, authorities and others are wrenching their hands over how 40 people watched the live video, but did nothing to alert authorities.
The assault took place March 19 while the girl was missing from her family, who was dropped off to them by other family members. A relative of the girl was alerted about the video by a teen who saw it. Her mother spotted Johnson at a police precinct while giving a news conference and showed him images from the video. Johnson, alerted Facebook which soon removed the footage. The girl was located two days later walking the streets near her home and returned to her family. She was taken to a hospital and treated.
Johnson announced on Saturday that a 14-year-old boy was arrested and charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, manufacture of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography. A warrant is also out for a 15-year-old boy that police believe was connected to the attack. They are also attempting to identify other suspects, but because of the traumatic nature of what happened to the victim, the case is proceeding slowly.
“She’s just having such a difficult time even communicating what occurred to her,” Chicago Police Cmdr. Brendan Deenihan told reporters at a news conference, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We obviously have a video of the incident, so we have verifiable objective evidence of what occurred to this young lady, but she’s just having a very difficult time.” He also said that she is being intimidated by social media bullying over what happened to her.
Police have said as many as six individuals participated in the attack and Johnson was angered by the whole thing.
“We’ve seen a couple acts in this city now in the last few months involving social media, and it just disgusts me that people could look at those videos and not pick up the phone and dial 911,” Johnson said at the press conference. “It makes you wonder where are we going, what are we doing as a society?”
Officials have discussed possible charges against those who watched the video and also others who have been taunting the family, but they have been told by Facebook there’s no way to identify who is watching a particular video on the social network. Also Deenihan said there has been no criminal threat to the girl or the family made, so no charges could be filed against any bullies yet.
“We’re going to vet all that out to see if there is a specific possible charge, but right now there isn’t a specific threat made to the victim or her family, nothing anybody could be charged with,” Deenihan said.