RICHMOND, Calif. (CBS/AP) The 15-year-old victim of a gang-rape and beating at a Richmond High homecoming dance spoke out for the first time Tuesday.
"Violence is always the wrong choice," she reportedly said in a written statement delivered by victim advocate DeAnna Schlaum at a rally and candlelight vigil.
"We realize people are angry about this," the statement said. "But let the anger cause change; change that is necessary to keep our children, our neighbors and our friends safe. We thank everyone for their love, support and ongoing prayers."
Just hours earlier, police arrested a seventh suspect, Elvis Josue Torrentes, 21, of Richmond, for investigation of rape, rape in concert with force and other allegations that could lead to life in prison if he is convicted. He was being held on $1.2 million bail.
Prosecutors have filed charges against five other suspects, including 18-year-old Jose Carlos Montano of San Pablo late Monday. He did not enter a plea during his brief arraignment Tuesday.
Police released a sixth suspect, Salvador Rodriguez, on Nov. 2 for lack of evidence.
Suspect Cody Ray Smith, 15, pleaded not guilty to charges, while fellow suspects Ari Abdallah Morales, 16, Marcelles James Peter, 17, and Manuel Ortega, 19, did not enter pleas during their arraignment as adults in Contra Costa County Superior Court.
Attorney Ernie Castillo, who represents Morales, said Tuesday that his client likely will not enter a plea when the suspects return to court Thursday. Castillo said Morales may not do so until prior to a preliminary hearing. It could not be determined if the other suspects had retained lawyers.Janet Gutierrez, 16, a junior at the school, said the rape has made her concerned about her own safety.
"I'm not scared to be in school," Gutierrez said. "But I'm not going to walk around outside, especially when it's dark."
Community leaders were asking for 100 volunteers to help keep the school safe.
"I pray that we can use this horrific and heinous incident as a teachable moment," said the Rev. Andre Shumake, who made the plea.
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