On Oct. 24, police say dozens of teens gawked, laughed and took photographs while a 15-year-old girl was brutally gang-raped and beaten outside a Richmond High School homecoming dance.
But one brave girl, who was not even there, wouldn't stand for it.
"I was watching a movie, and my brother-in-law came in and he told me 'I don't know what to do, because there is a girl back there and she has been raped. I'm scared,'" 18-year-old Margarita Vargas said.
"I'm like 'We should call the cops because that's the right thing to do.' I didn't think about it twice."
Vargas said she called police because she would want someone to do the same if she ever was in that situation.
After making the call, Vargas went to the scene to check on the girl.
"I could tell that she had been beat up because her face was swollen," Vargas said. "She was naked, didn't have shoes. They just covered her up and stuff."
The girl who was attacked is just a few years younger than the woman police now call the "Good Samaritan." Vargas said she would like to reach out to the victim again.
"I would like to talk to her. I would just, not to be nosey or stuff, but I would like to ask how she's feeling. I would want her to know that she can get through it. It will take awhile but she can get through it," she said.
Vargas said she would pick up that phone again and call for help. But she also understands why others won't.
"I think people are scared, especially in a community like this where 'snitching' is a big thing to people," she said.
Vargas said she does not believe there is such a thing as "snitching," especially in a case such as this. Calling for help, she said is just the right thing to do.
Nov 5, 2009
Nov 4, 2009
Parent Connie Galvan (left) and student Barbie Baker comfort each other during the rally on the Richmond High campus. Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle
The Richmond High School girl who was gang raped after leaving a homecoming dance delivered a message Tuesday evening to hundreds of people shaken by the attack and hoping to bring about a positive change in its ugly wake - "violence is always the wrong choice."
We realize people are angry about this," the 15-year-old sophomore said in a statement read by her church pastor at a rally at the high school. "But let the anger cause change, change that is necessary to keep our children, our neighbors and our friends safe."
The pastor, Jim Wheeler of the First Presbyterian Church of Richmond, praised the assembled 500 students, parents and area residents for their "heart and emotion" in support of the girl. He said he believes she is recovering well, "but she will have a long way to go."
It was a sentiment echoed by many of the girl's classmates as they listened to speeches, watched performances and held a candlelight vigil near the football field.
The brutal crime has infuriated and saddened nearly everyone associated with the school. Some local toughs have even talked of exacting vigilante violence against the young men who either took part in or watched the attack Oct. 24 in a courtyard on the edge of the campus.
While police continue to hunt for suspects - six are in custody now - the crime has school district officials fast-tracking new security measures and counseling programs, and students talking intently about how to combat violence toward women.
Helping the victim
Richmond High School is accepting cards and donations for the victim and her family. They can be mailed to the school at 1250 23rd St., Richmond, CA 94804-1011. Make checks out to the Richmond High Student Fund, with "For sex assault victim" written in the memo line.
Oct 31, 2009
CNN talks to Richmond High's famous basketball coach, Coach Carter, and the senior class president, Gina Saechao.
**** Editor's Note
Join us on Savvy Talk Radio November 1, 2009 at 6pm EST as we discuss this case as well as other topics that have stunned us in the past week.