Richmond gang rape suspects plead not guilty

Six suspects in the October gang rape of a 16-year-old girl outside the Richmond High School homecoming dance pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Richmond.

The suspects include San Pablo residents Cody Smith, 15, and Ari Morales, 16; Pinole resident Marcelles Peter, 17; and Richmond residents Manuel Ortega, 19, Jose Montano, 18, and Elvis Torrentes, 21.

According to police, as many as 10 people robbed, beat and raped the victim for two and a half hours in a secluded area of the campus beginning at about 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 24 while as many as a dozen others stood by and watched.

The three juveniles have been charged as adults with rape by a foreign object while acting in concert. Morales has also been charged with robbery, according to the criminal complaint.

Ortega has been charged with forcible rape while acting in concert, assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury, and robbery, according to the complaint.

Montano has been charged with forcible rape while acting in concert and rape by a foreign object while acting in concert.

Torrentes has been charged with rape by a foreign object of a person unable to resist due to intoxication, rape by a foreign object while acting in concert and rape while acting in concert, Senior Deputy District Attorney Dara Cashman said.

All of the defendants except for Torrentes also face enhancements that make them eligible for a life sentence, Cashman said. Torrentes was not charged with the enhancement because the charges against him don't include allegations that he personally penetrated the victim.

Attorneys for the defendants did not wish to comment on the case Tuesday.

Cashman said outside the courthouse Tuesday that this case seems particularly “cold and callous” to her, in part because so many people stood by and watched the assault without making any attempt to help the victim.

All six defendants are scheduled to return to court Jan. 21 at 1:30 p.m. to set a date for a preliminary hearing.
      
 

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