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Continued: Shamed into silence

The St. Paul 12-year-old who was gang-raped in the park didn't marry any of her attackers. Authorities learned of the attack from someone else, and she eventually told them her story in great detail. More than seven years later, shame keeps her from telling some family members what happened that night. She agreed to tell her story to the Star Tribune, but she wanted her identity to remain private.

She left her house that night with trusted friends, she said. But a little later, when they piled into cars to go to the barbecue, she ended up the only girl in a car full of older boys.

Members of the Asian Crips gang took her to a deserted area of Battle Creek Park. As one began kissing her, she sensed that things were turning ugly. She considered fleeing, but she didn't think she could outrun them.

She told police that one boy walked her to a sprawling tree and then the five boys assaulted her, one by one. Two held her while a third raped her, she said.

Then they took her to another park in Cottage Grove and two of the gang members raped her again.

When she tried to resist another boy's attack, he went to his car and came back with a handgun.

You didn't give me love; I should kill you, she said he told her. She remembers hearing other boys trying to calm him down: Dude, don't do that! Don't shoot her!

He fired. She heard the bullet split the air a few feet away.

"I just screamed really loud," she remembered. "I screamed forever."

Gang members told her that she'd been "raped in" to their group, she told police. At age 12, she was now an official Asian Crip Lady. She was terrified, she said, but she acted tough and hung around with the gang for about two weeks. She was afraid that if she didn't, they might come looking for her or hurt her family.

A few days into the ordeal, three gang members took her to a room in a Minneapolis garage and had sex with her again. She didn't fight, she said, because she knew it wouldn't matter.

When she limped into her house that night in pain, a relative noticed she was walking gingerly and surmised she'd had sex.

You're just a little slut, the girl says the woman told her.

By her second week of being with the gang, the girl said she had learned to anticipate trouble. When she saw gang members talking quietly and pointing to her and other girls, she feared they were plotting to rape again, so she hid.

One time she hid in a laundry room. "I can hear them saying, 'Where's the other girl?' ... But, you know, I kept quiet," she remembered. "I was shaking. I cried to myself."

Two weeks after the rapes in the parks, police arrested some of the gang members on a tip from another victim.

Ten gang members eventually pleaded guilty to sex crimes. Each received prison terms ranging from about 3½ years to more than 11 years, although four were sentenced as juveniles and their prison time was suspended. Prosecutors listed only a few victims when they charged the group, but authorities believe there were more. Other victims wouldn't cooperate because of the stigma, said Chris Wilton, who prosecuted the case in Ramsey County.

In these rape cases, often the victims "will just simply indicate that either nothing happened or they don't want to talk about it," Wilton said. "And so then you're kind of at a dead end."

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