Liberian teen pleads not guilty in child rape casePosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- A Liberian teenager charged as an adult in the rape of an 8-year-old girl from the same country pleaded not guilty in a Phoenix courtroom on Monday.
Teen pleads not guilty
New details in alleged sexual assault of 8-year-old girl - According to court documents filed Monday, the 14-year-old suspect allegedly bribed one of the younger boys to sexually assault the girl.
The 14-year-old appeared by video for the hearing wearing a jail uniform. An interpreter translated the proceedings for him.
Commissioner Brian Rees ordered that an interpreter be present at all of the teen's hearings and set an initial pretrial conference for Sept. 21.
Phoenix police say the teen and three other boys ages 10 to 13 lured the girl to an empty storage shed July 16 with the promise of chewing gum, then restrained and raped her.
The 14-year-old is charged with one count each of kidnapping, sexual assault and attempted sexual conduct with a minor, and five counts of sexual conduct with a minor.
Liberia's deputy ambassador to the U.S. said he met with the 8-year-old alleged victim over the weekend and tried to console her with hugs and a teddy bear.
Edwin Sele said Sunday the girl is traumatized and cried heavily during their meeting.
He says she needs to be reunited with her family to get the best care possible.
The case sparked an international outcry, and Sele went to Phoenix to meet with police, child care workers and prosecutors at the request of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Sele is scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., on Monday.
Youngest boys charged in child rape case appear in court
PHOENIX -- The two youngest boys charged in the rape last month of an 8-year-old Liberian girl have been ordered to remain in juvenile detention with restricted visitors, as Liberia's deputy ambassador to the U.S. arrived in town hoping to speak to them.
At separate hearings today during which one of the young defendants openly wept, judges ordered that no one be allowed to interview the boys without the permission of their lawyers.
Both lawyers indicated they would advise the boys not to speak to deputy ambassador Edwin Sele, who arrived in Phoenix today for a weeklong fact-finding mission and to help dispel notions that rape is condoned in the West African country.
Sele said he wants the boys to know that being innocent until proven guilty is a hallmark of the U.S. justice system and that he also wants to meet with the 8-year-old girl to tell her that all Liberians extend their love to her.
The rape case drew international attention last month after police reported the alleged victim's parents said they were ashamed of the girl and didn't want her back -- a contention later disputed by the family's pastor. The girl remains in custody of Child Protective Services.
Court documents reveal new details about alleged 14-year-old rape suspect
PHOENIX -- Court documents filed in the case of a 14-year-old boy accused of spearheading the alleged gang rape of an 8-year-old girl are revealing new details about the incident.
According to papers filed Monday, the Steven Tuopeh, who is facing trial as an adult, offered one of the three younger boys allegedly involved in the attack a pack of gum if he would sexually assault the girl.
Those documents also say the Tuopeh held the little girl down while the three boys -- ages 9, 10 and 12 -- raped her in a vacant storage shed on July 16.
Police say the boys lured the girl into the shed with the promise of chewing gum.
A grand jury indicted Tuopeh on a variety of charges, including kidnapping, sexual assault and sexual conduct with a minor. The next step for him is an arraignment. The other three boys will be tried as minors.
All of the children -- the victim, who remains in state custody and the suspects -- are Liberian refugees.
Deputy Liberian ambassador to visit Phoenix
Liberia's deputy ambassador to the U.S. says he's coming to Phoenix in hopes of meeting with an 8-year-old alleged rape victim, the four boys accused of attacking her and their families.
Edwin Sele told The Associated Press on Monday that he'll arrive in Phoenix on Wednesday.
He says he wants to meet with everyone involved in the case to understand what happened. He also will meet with police, child-care workers and members of the local Liberian community.
Sele says the Liberian government is concerned about the case.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)