Today on CNN Newsroom

The latest news and information from around the world. Also connect with CNN through social media. We want to hear from you.
October 31st, 2009
09:07 PM ET

Can Bystanders be Charged in Gang Rape?

Fredricka Whitfield talks to attorneys Avery Friedman and Richard Herman about whether the bystanders can be charged with anything after watching last weekend's attack on a 15-year-old girl in Richmond, California.


Filed under: Anchors • Fredricka Whitfield
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Tanisha

    Yes, they should be charged. Failure to assist anyone that you see is being harmed should be a crime, regardless of age. If they didn't directly want to get involved for fear they would be attacked then they should have called the police. Reports should have been coming in from all around. These teenagers can twitter every detail of their boring lives and make a ridiculous video on YouTube go viral but none of them could be bothered to take their cell phones and call for help. They took pictures and laughed but none of them even thought about helping this girl. Obviously shame doesn't apply to any of these individuals or the ones in Chicago. I don't worry about the world I'm leaving to these kids in high school because I hope they get exactly what they give "Nothing".

    October 31, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  2. Laura

    Where was the father during all of this? Supposedly, he was going to pick up his daughter after the dance. If so, did he not investigate the situation having found that his daughter was gone? Did he not he ask around or look around for her in the 2 and 1/2 hours she was missing? That seems plenty of time for a concerned parent to take aggressive action in trying to find one's daughter.

    November 1, 2009 at 12:25 am |
  3. monica

    lets not forget who the monsters are..and that people like this are continue to be and return to our society..maybe some people are just bad and need to never return to our society..for those who watched and did nothing community service and therapy would help..but i think the key is not letting sexual predators back in at all...in other words say we mean it is unacceptable once and for all....is it beacuse these crimes happen to mostly women and children that our society dosnt take harsher measures in dealing with them

    November 1, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  4. Theron

    I think its unfair for the bystanders to be charged,because they would've put their safety at risk. But,if the bystanders are charged,then after this case,bystanders in the future will just leave the scene and maybe this will make them call for help.

    November 1, 2009 at 9:23 am |
  5. Theron

    I think we shouldnt put so much emphasis on the bystanders but rather the people who actually committed this terrible act against this girl.They are responsible for this ultimately,they're the criminals here,not the spectators. There might have been people who had good hearts and wanted to intervene but maybe felt that it wasnt a bright idea for their own safety and maybe their family's safety as well.But one must wonder,if the amount of spectators out numbered the attackers,which I dont know if that is the case, but if they did,then they defintiely should've tried stop it.

    November 1, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  6. Martin

    The bystanders are criminal as well. They psychologically approved of what was going on. The bystanders have the power to correct a mistake from happening. If the entire group of people watching would have strongly disagree with what was going on, they could have call 911 or stop the perpetrators from continuing raping this girls for 2 and 1/2 hours. It is unforgivable that they just watch this little girls being raped, assaulted and robbed. It means that they were enjoying the scene. We have to change how and what our society perceives what is right from what is obviously WRONG. As a father of three girls 14 through 16, I am terrified every time I hear a story like this. Charge the witnesses just as harshly for the fact they they were actually enjoying to view this girl being raped and assaulted repetitively over a ridiculous amount of time. Come on America lets wake up and see what is happening to our youth. We are not spending enough time time on this subject.

    November 1, 2009 at 12:43 pm |
  7. Carmeleta

    When I heard that people watched and did not call for help, I thought for a moment – Have we lost the HUMAN TOUCH!!!! On the other hand, people probably thought they were having strange fun like some teenagers do or another publicity stunt. Its hard to comprehend what the bystanders were thinking. My prayers are with this girl and her family – they need a lot of help getting through this.

    November 1, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  8. Amber

    I've been keeping up on this story and it breaks my heart my thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family.This is nothing but a product of ignorance it has nothing to do with the parents i get sick of hearing the blame the parents thoery. In some cases maybe but not all. These children have there own thoughts and perceptions on life they are to blame for this horrific act . those who watched it had no fear for their lives they were plainly heartless. I understand fear, watching it wasnt fear that was encouragement and intimidation they all should be charged. They also keep bringing up the topic of snitching .. this is a major threat to society and resides in many urban neighborhoods the young man who was set on fire was one national case but we see it on the news everyday its terrifying everyday but this is reality at our door step. I also blame Television all thats being promoted is sex and my 5 yr old is acknowledging this hannah montana , degrassi, music videos its promoting sex we all need to pay attention to the messages we send out to the youth they are our next generation of leaders.

    November 1, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  9. Terry

    Are the witnesses not guilty of a federal crime called "misprision of felony"?

    US CODE: Title 18, Part I, Chapter 1, § 4. Misprision of felony
    Whoever, having knowledge of the actual commission of a felony cognizable by a court of the United States, conceals and does not as soon as possible make known the same to some judge or other person in civil or military authority under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

    Michael Fortier was sentenced to 12-years in prison and fined $200,000 for failing to prevent Tim McVeigh’s bombing of the Murray Federal Building in OKCity that killed 168 people. He pled guilty to misprision of felony and three other charges.

    November 2, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  10. Theron

    I respectfully disagree with one of the posters when they said the parents have nothing to do with it. The parents have alot to do with it.How kids are raised, affects their behavior well into their teens and into adulthood.Yes these kids have their own thoughts and perceptions,but if they aren't being raised and guided properly,then things like this will occur. When people feel that it is okay for them to rape a girl, something is definitely wrong.

    The parents need to be interviewed because obvioulsy they aren't doing their job at home. This truly shows a lack of discipline in the home.Television doesnt help,but that's why the parents are supposed to be there to tell their kids what they can and can't watch. Parents need to put their foot down. And don't tell me that parents can't control what their kids watch in the home,because the parent is the boss. If the parent establishes a position of authority when the kid is first born,then it is easier for the kid to listen,the problem is that the position of authority isn't established, so kids aren't listening to their parents from a very young age, so obviously when the kid becomes older,they will do as they please. Some parents let their kids watch rated R movies with them when their kid is only 5,and this continues when the kid gets older,so these kids are being exposed to so much violence, but the parents let their kids do as they please.

    Even kids who come from a better economic background still get into trouble like raping a girl,because discipline is still absent. its not really the economic background of the individuals because rapists come from all walks of life, it is more about parents raising their kids. if kids don't listen at home what do you think will happen once they go out into the world,they're going to cause havoc.

    November 3, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  11. Nick Cummings

    I don't feel like the bystanders should be charged with the same crime as the actual person comminting the crrime. If they get charged withe the crime,then they might as well have joined th rape. Gang rape is becoming a serious issue in our society today. Gang rape did not just start unfortuantely. It has been going on for some time now.I feel like if u have to rape someone then you deserve to get punished serverly.

    November 9, 2009 at 11:26 am |