Chicago sexual assault streamed live on Facebook

2017-03-22 14:19


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Chicago - US police are searching for five or six men or boys who apparently sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl in Chicago and posted the act on Facebook Live.

None of the roughly 40 people who watched the live video reported the attack to police, authorities said on Tuesday.

Police only learned of the assault when the girl's mother approached the head of the police department, Superintendent Eddie Johnson, late on Monday afternoon as he was leaving a police station, department spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said.

She told him her daughter had been missing since Sunday and showed him screen grab photos of the alleged assault.

The mother said the girl's uncle told her on Monday morning about a video on Facebook Live that showed the assault, news station WGN reported.
"For you to do something like that and then post it up on Facebook like it's a joke…it’s just terrible," the girl's mother told news outlet WMAQ.

Guglielmi said Chicago police asked Facebook to take down the video, which it did.

He said on Tuesday that detectives found the girl and reunited her with her family. She told detectives that she knows at least one of her alleged attackers, the spokesperson said, but it remained unclear how well they knew each other.

Several people questioned

Guglielmi said investigators are questioning several people, but no one is considered a suspect yet and no arrests have been made.

He said Johnson was "visibly upset" after he watched the video, both by its content and the fact that there were "40 or so live viewers and no one thought to call authorities".

Investigators know the number of viewers because the count was posted with the video. To find out who they were, though, investigators would have to subpoena Facebook and would need to "prove a nexus to criminal activity" to obtain such a subpoena, Guglielmi said by email.

Jeffrey Urdangen, a professor at Northwestern University's law school and the director of the school's Centre for Criminal Defence, told the AP news agency it is not illegal to watch such a video or to not report it to the police. He also said child pornography charges wouldn't apply unless viewers were downloading the video.

The video marks the second time in recent months that the Chicago Police Department has investigated an apparent attack that was streamed live on Facebook. In January, four people were arrested after mobile phone footage showed them allegedly taunting and beating a mentally disabled man.

The suspects in that case have been charged with kidnapping, assault and hate crimes. 

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