Nine suspects with alleged ties to a Twin Cities area street gang were charged Friday with the rape of a 14-year-old girl on St. Paul's East Side last November.
Charges say the attack occurred at an abandoned house on the 200 block of White Bear Avenue after the victim was lured to a party, given alcohol and ultimately pulled into a bedroom while she grabbed frantically at objects and door frames.
Inside the bedroom, the victim saw six to eight figures in the darkness, she said later. She said she heard one 15-year-old suspect say, "Are you in? I call second," according to complaints and petitions filed in Ramsey County District Court.
"Crimes like these shock the conscience of our community," County Attorney John Choi said Friday.
The suspects -- five adults and four juveniles -- were alleged to be members of, or tied to, the True Blood (TB22) street gang, authorities say. TB22 gang members make it their intention to get girls drunk at parties and rape them, and have accomplished the goal once before, one adult suspect allegedly told police.
Sex assaults are common among all gangs, where women often are treated as second-class citizens, a St. Paul police gang investigator said.
St. Paul police Senior Cmdr. Todd Axtell said Friday that police had not received any reports tying the nine suspects to any previous unsolved sexual assaults. But, he said, "we are looking for other potential victims to come forward."
Police said the November incident was not an initiation. The TB22 gang, which originated in St. Paul with young men whose older brothers were in the Crazy Blood gang, is known for auto thefts, burglaries and drive-by shootings.
The vacant house where the attack allegedly occurred looks out over a park in a row of tidy homes.
"Oh God almighty, oh, that's just terrible," said E.L. Nagle, who has lived in the area since 1964. "I am shocked at that. I can't get over it."
Nagle said that the area was generally quiet and safe. Neighbors had not noticed any unusual activity near the vacant house.
According to the complaints and juvenile court petitions, the victim was picked up at school on Nov. 17 by one suspect, Mang Yang, 24, of St. Paul, and along with a friend, taken to parties at two residences owned or occupied by Kong "OG" Vang, 38, of St. Paul, also charged in the case.
Victim recognized suspects
At the second house, on White Bear Avenue, the 14-year-old recognized seven suspects, six of whom she believed to be TB22 gang members. She tried to leave, she said, but was pulled from Yang's vehicle and carried by two juveniles into a bedroom with just a mattress on the floor. Her pants and underwear were removed as she was held down.
She said one or two people then touched her vagina, with at least one trying to penetrate her with a finger, before someone shouted, "Police," and everyone ran.
One juvenile suspect, however, later told police during questioning that he saw one of the adults, Vang Tou Ger Vue, 19, of St. Paul, rape the girl. A second juvenile, Jim "Jimbo" Her, 17, of St. Paul, reported seeing at least two gang members rape the victim before the group was told "police were coming," the charges say.
There is no indication from court documents that police were actually called to the scene.
The girl was interviewed Nov. 23 by a sexual assault nurse examiner at Children's Hospital, and then by police Nov. 28.
On Friday, Axtell praised the girl for her "strength and tenacity." Choi said that she now was in a "safe place."
Along with Mang Yang, Vue and Vang, the other adults charged were Vanchai "Chai" Xiong, 18, and Michell T. Yang, 22, both of St. Paul. None of the five men have prior criminal-sexual-conduct charges on their adult court records.
The county attorney's office identified three juvenile suspects -- Shaileng "Shy" Lor, 17; Xou "Suki" Yang, 16; and Her, all of St. Paul -- but did not name the fourth juvenile male, who was 15 when the alleged incident occurred. Petitions have been filed to try all four juveniles as adults.
Each of the nine suspects faces four counts: first-degree criminal sexual conduct, conspiracy to commit first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, and crime committed for the benefit of a gang.
During the past few years, there have been four other cases in which defendants have been charged with both criminal sexual conduct and crime committed for the benefit of a gang, according to the State Court Administrator's Office. The four cases, all involving juveniles, were charged in 2009.
St. Paul police ask that any other potential victims of a gang assault call them at 651-266-5680.