Some in Texas Town Still Disagree Over Sex Assault
The abandoned mobile home where an 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted had become a symbolic reminder of a horrific crime that brewed racial tensions in this Southeast Texas community.
It’s now gone, razed earlier this summer by city officials trying to move forward from a case in which 20 men and boys were charged with repeatedly attacking the girl. But the divide the crime created among residents when it first became public last year still lingers. And with the first suspect convicted in the case at large and several more defendants still facing trial, it could be some time before Cleveland is able to put the crime behind it.
Prosecutors say the girl was sexually assaulted on at least five occasions from mid-September through early December of 2010, at the mobile home and elsewhere. Some in Cleveland, located about 45 miles northwest of Houston, have suggested the girl was partly responsible because of her appearance, sparking widespread condemnation. Some also believe the arrests were racially motivated; all of the suspects are black, while the girl is Hispanic.
Others, however, anxiously await the capture of the first person tried and convicted in the case who ran off in the middle of his trial.