Attacker details St. Paul rape by 9 gang members

  • Article by: JOY POWELL
  • Star Tribune
  • December 14, 2012 - 5:31 AM

The plan, 16-year-old Johnny Her told the jury, was to get the teen girl so drunk that he and eight others with gang ties could rape her without fear of being identified.

The man who made it happen, he continued, was a 23-year-old who picked up the 15-year-old girl and two friends outside their school, bringing them and beer to a house where others associated with the True Blood (TB22) gang gathered.

"We should get her drunk and rape her," Mang Yang said, according to Her's testimony Thursday in Ramsey County District Court.

Yang, now 24, faces four felony charges, including rape and committing a crime for the benefit of a gang.

Five other defendants already have pleaded guilty to charges connected to the rape, including Her. He was brought to the courtroom from a juvenile detention facility; he will remain under extended juvenile jurisdiction until he is 21.

Her, who was 15 at the time of the attack, lived with four relatives who were gang members but said he wasn't in a gang himself. He testified Thursday in St. Paul about how the rape on Nov. 17, 2011, was planned -- and why he went along with it.

"We were drinking and trying to get the girl drinking so she would pass out so she wouldn't recognize who did what," Her told jurors.

Under a prosecutor's questioning, Her also revealed details about one of St. Paul's most lethal gangs, known for shootings, knifings, robberies and rapes. Her conceded the gang was violent.

"They told me about raping girls, but I never knew about anyone getting charged," he said.

Her came to St. Paul from Fresno, Calif., in the summer of 2011. He lived with an older brother and three stepbrothers who were tattooed members of TB 22 and a related gang. They introduced him to other members, he said.

The teen said the group had been drinking the night of the rape at the home of Kong "OG" Vang in the 500 block of Maryland Avenue. Because Vang's parents were home, they couldn't rape the girl there, so they moved to a condemned home that Vang's family had lost to foreclosure. A St. Paul police officer would later testify that a basement window had been broken to gain entry to the split-level home at 219 White Bear Av.

The men and youths stood outside smoking, deciding whether to wait or attack her then, Her said. The girl started refusing their drinks and then climbed into the back of Yang's red sports car, wanting to go home.

Her said Yang told him and Shaileng "Shy" Lor, then 17, to get the girl. Lor grabbed her out of the car, Her said, and he was waiting by the house door to help Lor drag her down a hall to a dark bedroom, which had a mattress on the floor.

"She tried to grab the door; she was screaming, begging," Her said. "Shaileng tossed her on the bed."

Her said Yang pushed him toward the girl, urging him to hold her down. Her said he was afraid of what might happen if he didn't.

"I was thinking they might jump me into the gang or something," he said, referring to initiation beatings. So he grabbed the girl's left arm while others held her right arm and thighs, Her said.

Her said he watched as Vang Vue raped the girl and then asked for his turn to attack the girl.

Yang, he said, also was in the bedroom. The attackers all fled when someone said police had been called to the house.

Four days later, the principal of Community of Peace Academy in St. Paul, Tim McGowan, and social worker Molly Roarke went to the home of the girl, whom they knew as quiet and respectful. The girl's friend, who had been with her at the house, had told them of the attack.

The girl's parents told them she was in the basement, that they'd been having trouble with her, and she wouldn't come upstairs or talk with them, McGowan testified. She didn't want to go to school.

The teen seemed detached, a "shell of herself," he said. "She was empty. There was this girl that wasn't quite there."

He got her to talk. Wiping tears, she said she shouldn't have been there and made bad decisions.

"She was concerned about what her parents would think, and she didn't want to cause shame," he said.

McGowan convinced the girl that what happened wasn't her fault and to tell her parents and police. He called police.

Joy Powell • 651-925-5038

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