MORENO VALLEY (AP) — A juvenile court judge will decide Monday whether to allow prosecutors to charge four teenagers as adults in the group rape of an 11-year-old girl whom authorities say was lured into a park bathroom and assaulted by seven people in a gang-related crime.
Prosecutors filed a motion with the juvenile court judge asking for the change of venue given the severity and nature of the crimes, according to the Riverside County district attorney’s office. The court papers were not made public because the matter is before the juvenile court.
The charges against each teen, who range in age from 15 to 17, include rape and sodomy, said John Hall, district attorney spokesman. They are also charged with committing the crimes to benefit a criminal street gang.
The defendants were among a gang of six teenage boys and a 19-year-old man accused of attacking the girl March 10 in a bathroom at Victoriano Park in southeastern 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 whether the older girl or two other boys had been charged because of laws protecting juveniles in court matters, Hall said.
The lone 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.
Sykes could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted, Hall said.
It was the second time in a month that 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 a boy sexually assaulted her while the two others held her down at Banning’s Roosevelt Williams Park.
The boys and the victim attended Nicolette Middle School, and investigators said it wasn’t a gang-related attack.
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