kpix-7-2013-masthead kcbs 7-2013-masthead

Local

Richmond Gang Rape Suspect Claimed Sex Was Consensual

View Comments
Richmond High School

Police outside Richmond High School. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Get Breaking News First

Receive News, Politics, and Entertainment Headlines Each Morning.
Sign Up

MARTINEZ (CBS / AP / BCN) ― A police officer testified Tuesday that the first suspect arrested in the gang-rape of a teenage girl outside a Richmond High School homecoming dance claimed he had consensual sex with her.

Richmond Officer Gary Lewis said during a preliminary hearing in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez that 20-year-old Manuel Ortega indicated the girl wanted to have sex with him.

Lewis testified that Ortega was also belligerent, drunk and even asked officers to kill him.

Ortega is one of seven males accused of raping the then-16-year-old girl. Six of them could face life in prison if convicted.

Police found the partially nude victim lying underneath a picnic table on the north side of the high school’s campus after she was raped, beaten and robbed on Oct. 24, 2009.

Investigators said as many as 20 people watched without reporting the crime.

Also testifying Tuesday was a Richmond police crime scene investigator who choked up with emotion on the witness stand as she looked at photographs she had taken of the teenage victim.

Joanna Grizetti said she arrived at the school, located at 1250 23rd Street, about midnight on the night of the rape.

Other officers had already arrived, but nobody had moved the victim because they didn’t know what kind of injuries she had and didn’t want to risk injuring her further.

When she got to the victim, Grizetti, who appeared to be trying to control her emotions, said, “I saw a female. She was unresponsive. She was beneath a square picnic table. She was draped over the a metal bar motionless.”

She said the girl’s purple dress had been pulled up to expose the lower part of her body.

When Deputy District Attorney Dara Cashman asked her how long it took for medical personnel to arrive, Grizetti said, “I don’t know how long it took them to get from their dispatch to the scene, but it felt like it was forever.”

When medical personnel did arrive, they had to pull the victim from under the picnic table and carry her to a gurney.

She remained unconscious the entire time, Grizetti said, and when the paramedic shined a light in her eyes, her pupils were unresponsive.

She also had scrapes on her back, knees and the tops of her feet that, according to Grizetti, could have been caused by being dragged or pulled along a surface.

She had rocks and dirt pressed into her skin and plant material in her hair.

She had an injury that deformed her left cheek and that, according to Grizetti, the paramedic said might be a fracture.

After the victim was airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where she spent the next five days recovering, Grizetti said she began marking pieces of evidence that were strewn about the area.

The evidence included a used condom, several open condom wrappers and some unused condoms; alcoholic beverage containers; food wrappers; a bicycle; a purse and makeup items; the victim’s school identification card; and a walkie-talkie.

Richmond police Officers Todd Kaiser and Gunnar Googins, who were the first to arrive at the scene, had initially responded to a report that a naked girl was walking around near the school.

As they approached the school, Kaiser said he shined his spotlight through a chain-link fence into the courtyard area where the victim was found and saw a group of males standing around a picnic table.

When they saw the officers, they took off running, Kaiser said.

The officers tried to head them off, but the group fled. The two officers went to look at the area where the group had been seen and found the victim.

Kaiser said at first he thought she was dead, but when he shook her, she moaned.

They radioed for medical personnel and more officers to respond.

“I could tell something was really wrong by the way Officer Kaiser was speaking,” said Lewis, who had also responded to the scene.

As he was driving east on Rheem Avenue approaching 24th Street about a block from the school, Lewis said he saw a man, later identified as Ortega, run in front of his patrol car, he said.

Lewis made a U-turn and passed the spot again. When he turned off his lights, he saw the Ortega come out from behind a vehicle and pulled up next to him.

As Lewis was notifying dispatch that he was contacting a potential suspect, the man took off running, he said.

Lewis got out of his car and chased him down. He caught up to him about 30 yards away.

“I grabbed him by the right shoulder and he immediately spun around and just started flailing his arms, throwing punches left and right,” Lewis said.

Lewis, who is 6 feet 9 inches tall, was able to hold Ortega at arm’s length. He said he called for backup but was able to overpower Ortega and handcuff him before additional officers arrived.

During his arrest, Ortega allegedly said, in crasser terms, that he didn’t do anything wrong and that the victim, whom he later referred to by her first name, had wanted him to have sex with her, according to Lewis’ testimony.

After Lewis handcuffed Ortega, he walked him over to a lawn near his patrol car and sat him down, Lewis said.

Ortega appeared to be intoxicated and allegedly continued to shout statements and to threaten the officer. At one point, he claimed he had a knife and was going to stab all the officers, Lewis said.

At various points, Ortega also tried to bite, kick and head-butt Lewis, Lewis said.

Another officer, Jeff Whitson, said that at one point Ortega said, “I didn’t rape her. She was a grown-ass woman. She was so drunk she didn’t even know what was going on. I wasn’t the only one. There was hella people.”

He was so combative that the officers put him in a wrap device to restrain him while they brought him back to the station, Lewis said.

As the officers were collecting evidence from his body, Lewis said the officers removed his clothes, including his underpants, which had a wet spot in the crotch area.

Grizetti said they also found pinkish glitter just above his pubic area. Similar glitter was found on the victim’s dress and in a puddle of vomit found at the crime scene, she said.

Ortega was the only suspect arrested that night.

The other defendants in the case are San Pablo residents Cody Smith, 16, and Ari Morales, 17; Pinole resident Marcelles Peter, 18; and Richmond residents John Crane Jr., 43, Jose Montano, 19, and Elvis Torrentes, 22.

The three suspects who were juveniles at the time of the crime — Smith, Morales and Peter — have been charged as adults.

Testimony in the case was scheduled to continue on Wednesday.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc., The Associated Press and Bay City News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

View Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 53,924 other followers