Richmond High School Gang-Rape: Suspects Wear Bulletproof Vests at California Arraignment

(AP Photo )
Photo: Two students walk next to a sign about violence at Richmond High School in Richmond, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009.

RICHMOND, Calif. (CBS/AP) They were wearing bulletproof vests and flanked by deputies.

Quite a change for suspects Cody Ray Smith, 15, Ari Abdallah Morales, 16, and Marcelles James Peter, 17, who all now face charges in the alleged gang rape of a 15-year-old girl outside her northern California high school's homecoming dance.

They were arraigned in Contra Costa County Superior Court Thursday, and charged as adults because of the severity of the crime, said prosecutor Dana Cashman.

They could face life in prison.

Smith pleaded not guilty, while Morales and Peter did not enter a plea. 19-year-old Manuel Ortega was arraigned separately and also entered no plea.

Another suspect, Salvador Rodriguez, 21, also remained jailed but has not been charged.

Police say as many as ten people ranging in age from 15 to their mid-20s attacked the girl for more than two hours at a dimly lit area Saturday night.

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)
The picnic area at Richmond High School in Richmond, Calif. where police said a 15-year-old girl was allegedly raped and beaten.

The girl left the dance, police say, and was walking to meet her father for a ride home when a classmate invited her to join a group drinking in the school courtyard before the alleged assault began. The victim had a large amount of alcohol by that time, police said.

Compounding the vicious attack, Richmond, Calif. police say nearly two dozen people saw the rape without reporting it.

Officers found the girl after receiving a tip about a possible assault on campus, and found the girl semi-conscious near a picnic table.

The victim was released from a hospital Wednesday.

Suspects Smith, Morales and Peter were each charged with rape-in-concert and sexual penetration with a foreign object, along with special circumstances that could make them eligible for a life sentence.

Police said they're still looking for more suspects in the Saturday night attack. They're hoping a $20,000 reward will help flush out more information.

October 29, 2009 - Richmond High School Gang-Rape: 4 Teens Charged Could Face Life in Prison
October 28, 2009 - Richmond High School Gang Rape: Three More Arrests in Homecoming Attack
October 27, 2009 - Richmond High School Gang-Rape in California: Others Watched and Did Nothing, Say Cops

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