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July 27th, 2009
11:50 AM ET

Girl Shunned By Family After Gang Rape

It's one of those stories that just keeps getting worse, the more you hear. An 8-year-old Liberian refugee: attacked and gang-raped in Phoenix. Her alleged rapists: four young boys, also Liberian refugees. The girl's family: horrified - by HER.
Well, this story raised a huge outcry as it rocketed around the world –all the way to the Liberian capital, Monrovia. In fact, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf wanted to talk about the case with Kyra.




soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. michael armstrong sr.

    The little girls parants need to be reminded that they live in the United States now and abandonment of a child is against the law no matter what there rediculos beliefs are if they dont follow Americas laws then they need to loose there citizenship and the girl needs to stay here and the parents need to be deported for there heartless act.

    July 27, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  2. RJ

    Wow, was the girl and those boys even here legally? If not why were they here? If so, why were they here? Last I knew Liberia was a free democratic country. The reason cant be political, so why are they here? Dont we have enough problems without adding unneccessary problems? Wheres immigration? Terrible thing that happened to the girl but quite frankly if she and the boys had been in their own country this would not have happened!

    July 27, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  3. Arlene

    This is a very sad and heartbreaking story. Hopefully, the parents will come to their senses and realize this personal violation does not shame the family. If not, I pray she finds a loving home that will keep her safe and secure and help her grow to become a well adjusted citizen.

    July 27, 2009 at 1:36 pm |
  4. melanie

    Could someone address the question:
    Can we send the boy back to Liberia, rather than paying money we don't have to prosecute, feed, and house him for 14 years?
    Thank you.

    July 27, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  5. Charlie Erickson

    I'd like to say that it was a job well done, Kyra. You did it with heartfelt concern.

    The little girl will have to deal with future problems. Not only those traumas caused by the rape, but also the trauma brought about by family shame and abandonment. Children need to know they will be protected, and when they are not, or when a parent(s) turns on them, it can have devastating long term effects. This child needs all the psychosocial help which might be available now, and for the near future (at minimum).


    July 27, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  6. Norm Mutch

    We must live up to the laws of other countries regardless of how unfair they seem – the penalties we imposed in the US are meant to serve as a deterrent to all people regardless or ethnic background – this story is tragic but how we deal with it may prevent it from happening again.

    July 27, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  7. Betty Phillips

    How sad for this little girl!! What is wrong with her parents?? They need to be most happy that the child is ALIVE!! Maybe her parents do not approve of the American way in treating children, then if they do not approve, then let me say this "Get your butts out of the United States and do not let the door hit your behind in getting out of the door.
    Good riddance and my prayers are for some loving want to be parents to adopt this child, I feel certain the parents could care less to let her be adopted. What a shame for a young girl to have to live with. Betty

    July 27, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  8. Charles

    CNN certainly have given this story the attention it deserves,
    but a recent Duke rape has gone largely unreported by major media outlets. The repeated rape and attempted sell of a 5 year old African American boy his white gay stepfather needs to be widely covered.

    Child sexual abuse is horrible, even worse when the perpetrator is an adult male and the victim is only 5 years old.

    Where's the media? Why so little coverage.

    Frank Lombard, Duke Univ. Official, Charged In Child Sex Case
    Frank Lombard, the school's associate director of the Center for Health Policy, ... digg Huffpost – Frank Lombard, Duke Univ. Official, Charged In Child Sex Case

    July 27, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  9. Leon

    this story is so terrible the boys who raped the girl should be sentenced to the maximum and put in US prison because if they deport them they will not face the sentencing they ought to get

    July 27, 2009 at 2:42 pm |
  10. Karen

    It is apalling how your story makes it appear that rape is part of Liberian "culture." Rape is a horrible act of violence that happens in many parts of the world, even in the U.S. Your story mentions that these refugee families have been in the U.S. since 2005. That means that the 14 yr old was 9 yrs old when he came to the U.S. Isn't possible that he and the other boys' despicable act were influenced by American "culture."

    July 27, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  11. Larry

    This is a horribly tragic story.

    It's hard to understand people's beliefs. I believe in Saudi Arabia it is a similar circumstance, where rape victims bring shame to the families.

    I hope the young girl finds a loving family to take her in.

    July 27, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  12. suhail khan

    its against the law ,,....blah blah tell the family member all u can .Similar stories are around mostly in third world countries.The victim and close family members comes from 2 nd generation illiterate family,. thats the root cause its not religion its illiterate culture value belief call it what u want

    July 27, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  13. Ladydee

    Please don't get this twisted people. This is not the mentality of all LIBERIANS. Her ignorant family is not/ and shouldn't be a representation of Liberians. This poor child is and should be the main focus here. To "RJ", you're clearly ignorant and have no heart, what difference does it make whether they were here illegal or not? Them being back home or in the U.S is not the point, and I'm sure it wouldn't make the difference. You need some Psychological help. This is just an unfortunate thing, because that poor girl has been ruined, both mentally and physically.

    July 27, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  14. Nusrat (Emma) Khan

    Wow, this story is VERY shocking and VERY sad! I have a little girl cousin who is 8 yrs old, and it makes me shudder. I almost can't believe her parents' reaction, BUT it does happen (in certain countries). I'm wondering what support these Liberian refugees had when they got to the US. I used to live in Tucson, AZ (3 hrs away from Phoenix), and don't recall their being many services for refugees. We only had 1 shelter for victims of domestic violence 10 yrs ago. I heard that AZ has a HUGE influx of refugees lately. In this bad economy, why can the state/govt recruit MORE ppl to help these new folks? So very sad...

    July 27, 2009 at 4:52 pm |
  15. Victor S.Granberry

    I challenge any news station to tell the truth. Citizens should have the right to express descent whether in the streets of Iran or standing on their front porch. If not threatening bodily harm to themselves or anyone else, all citizens should support that human right whether sworn to protect and serve or a president, the chief citizen. Any government offical that believes a citizen should be arrested for disagreeing with him siliently or aloud should not be a government official. Either the 911 call matches the police report or is not consistent. Did the citizen report their race and gender in the face-to-face report or on the phone. It needs to be established whether the officer lies on citizens or not. News stations talk about fair and balanced reporting. One shouldn't be shown without the other again. How far did Professor Gates follow the police car?

    July 27, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  16. Jacqueline Johnson

    I agree with everything that Liberia's president said during her interview. The response of her parents does not coincide with cultural views held here or in Liberia. However, I am concerned that dismay over this family's decision to blame the girl, may bring about a particularly stringent sentence on the boys, especially the fourteen year-old young man. The Liberian president and ambassador should be made to understand that the law does not demand that a fourteen year-old be tried as an adult. That is not a mandatory requirement and is subject to opinion. I am also bothered by Ms. Phillips' assertion that the ability of this young man to communicate in English on some level necessarily means that he is able to understand the language and procedural operations of law. I taught foreign language for over 30 years, and there is a stark difference between interacting and communicating in daily conversation or situations that frequently present themselves, and the understanding of terminology used in unfamiliar areas like law, medicine, or economics. Despite his age and his crime, let's not forget that he too needs support and assistance @ this time. The young girl's family has displayed a truly horrific reaction to the ordeal, and it is my hope that the courts not retaliate by giving these new immigrants a more difficult path to walk than those more aware of cultural norms and processes in the United States.

    July 27, 2009 at 10:53 pm |
  17. Natalie

    Words cannot do justice to the horror of this tragedy. Still, the situation speaks to a family apparently without self worth, self value or understanding the very basic laws of humanity: Caring for ones own offspring.

    The little girl is in desperate need of a home though I suspect she, like most children, would cling to her own family for a time. The young boys need to be dealt with based on case law rather than societal outrage felt because of the nature of this crime. So that they (the boys) do not become victims of a legalized mob calling for their heads, cooler heads need to prevail ensuring they are not sentenced disparately and differently than other youngsters who have committed similar crimes.

    July 28, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  18. Richard Beyerl

    I sat and watched what President Obama had to say today and then I listened to what the Minority Whip from Virgina had to say. I was a small business owner and because of the cost of insurance, I could not afford to offer my employees insurance and the insurance I could have afforded would have been so out of line to the cost for the employee it was not worth it for either my business or the employee. So, I don't know what small business the Whip and his people are talking to because most of the small business owners I know see it the same as I do.
    As we, many small business owners see it, that those that are apposed to the Government Reform Health Bill are just being backed by the Insurance Companies, who are affriad that their PROFITS with go down and that people will realize that the insurance companies are not the good people that they want you to think they are. Lets face it, to most politicians and big corporations we are not a country of people that need help in all areas of the economy, but just another record profit.

    July 28, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  19. Jean


    Why are you bringing Canadian Health Care into it? Canadian Health Care System is different from the American Health Care System, whatever the US has at this time. There is no comparison. There are also the negative ads against the Canadian Health Care System because President Obama would like to establish a US national health care. This is uncalled for. The US has Medicare and Medicaid. These are two types of coverage. Does the US need them? One national health care system should be able to take care of that and at less cost.
    There are Canadians who are satisfied with their Health Care System. I have no complaint about it. If people do their utmost to keep healthy, watch what they eat and drink and how they live, they may not make much use of the health care system. If Canadians need extra Health Care coverage which is not covered by Can. Health Care they have the option to get this additional coverage from insurance companies. I visualize that if Canadian Health Care covered everything it could go bankrupt and as some people could take advantage of the system. Likewise private insurance companies. If your employer offers health care coverage, does it cover everything? You will still need extra coverage. Therefore, would you not have to get it? This is the reason why there are insurance companies. Then, this is also why the US of all should have a National Health Care System without much ado and more than time for those who are in dire need of it. Furthermore, there are people who pay insurance coverage for years and until they die and during their lifetime, they may never use the coverage that these companies offer. What suits one person is not suitable for another. Likewise the Canadian Health Care System and the US one which President Obama wants to establish. I hope and pray that he is successful and the opposers will keep quiet.

    July 28, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  20. Kate

    Send all of these sub-human trash back to Liberia – they don't belong in the U.S. The horror of what that small girl went through will haunt her the rest of her life. Despicable act.

    July 28, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  21. Theo

    Subhuman Trash? wow strong words. what if a crime commited by an american caused a liberian to call the american sub human trash? your statement is suprising and also very insulting. It suggests that all Liberians are sub-human which for you they all may be. You should watch what you say.

    July 28, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  22. Rob

    Hey Ladydee, mind your own business, fact is a fact if they werent here to begin with this wouldnt have happened! We and Im sure your not a tax payer need not to take care of people who do not belong here and I suspect you fall into this catagory as well! So say more ignorant things it suits you just fine apparently!

    July 29, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  23. Ken

    I agree with Kate – the boys who committed this act are sub-humans, in fact they're animals who need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. It doesn't matter what nationality they are – if boys rape, the next step is murder. Lock them up.

    July 29, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  24. Christine MBG

    May I ask why a story of a crime commited in the United States turned into a story about Liberian rape crimes? I feel like this story took the wrong angle. Instead of focusing on the girl and her paretns home counrty and the way they "deal" with things in Africa, was wrong. This story should have been about this girl, what happened to her and similar cases in AMERICA. CNN, you are my main news source but for once I feel like the story quickly took a wrong turn when it turned from Americas faults, to someone elses.
    Either way this is awful for this poor little girl, there is no comming back from this for her.

    July 29, 2009 at 7:10 pm |
  25. Christine MBG

    oh and Rob and EJ, if this little girl was in Libera the chances that she would have gotten raped are much higher. The whole reason people come to America is for a better life.

    July 29, 2009 at 7:15 pm |
  26. Russ

    Why are we having this conversation. Why does the United States continue to allow immigrants to come here, reject our culture, values, laws, and way of life, but at the same time live off of the fruits of our labor and drain our economy. Of course this is a horrific thing to happen to a child, from any culture, but if that culture supports this kind of violence, brutality and beastiality, why should we tolerate it within our midst and then have to pay the costs associated with it. We certainly have enough social problems right here in the United States, that we don't have to let foreigners come here to create more. And what hurts me even more is when they come here and live the American dream and then criticize, condemn and mock us right in our midst. Most of them really take our kindness for weakness and I don't see where it is benefitting the US. As far as Liberia is concerned, the remnants of that civil war and its' devastating inhumanity is still very fresh for many of those people and the insidious tactics of the warlords has become a way of life. How "stupidly" of the United States immigration to let those people come here without stricter control over how they are acclimated to our culture. Bottom line, I think all the families involved need to be deported back to Liberia and let them deal with it. And the same goes for India, China, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Russia etc.

    July 29, 2009 at 10:57 pm |
  27. Charlie Erickson

    I believe that the story took the Liberia turn, in an attempt to explain why the boys did what they did, and why the little girl was rejected by her family. Without the use of the Liberian connection; motives, actions and reactions wouldn't be/have been understood, and psycosocial help and rehabilitation would be less effective. It would also have left community outreach organizations at a disadvantage, in teaching and orienting the refugees to the ways of Arizona law and of American culture in general. It is because of this connection, that everyone now knows that Liberian refugee communities everywhere in this country, need outreach and education on ways and issues, which we may not have otherwise known.

    Knowing and understanding the underlying reason(s) behind why people do what they do (which is also the foundation behind psychographics), can only serve to better treat, rectify, deal with, heal, and to hopefully prevent future occurrences of this manner from happening again.

    I would like to see much more focus now, on what is happening in Phoenix with the Liberian refugee community and with the little girl, how she is coping, and what her near future will be like.


    July 29, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  28. Mrs. Eileen Curras widow to Hernandez (WWII)

    This is incredible that no one is thinking of this child. How do these people come to the United States thinking for a minute that something like this will be aloud? The people who come to the United States need to understand that we have laws that need to be obeyed. I hope that the child is protected foremost.

    July 30, 2009 at 8:34 am |
  29. sonnyrice

    Why The Children

    Born into this world not of their making, Into a society where their lives are for taking. Preyed upon or killed because they are too weak. To defend themselves from those that seek. To take the innocence of their young life, with garbage bags, tape, hand, gun or knife. For sexual needs of the most foul kind, Too many go missing, are forgotten, out of mind. Everyday the same stories of horror to hear, Harmed by strangers or those they know dear. No one to hear or see their great fright. Harmed during the day as well as at night. No safety at home, school, or on a public street. Hunted online or by someone they meet. Buried alive, drowned, abused physically and mentally or choked. Sometimes they are found beaten or blood soaked. Battered and broken and left for dead. All because someone, somehow got it in their head. That they can do whatever they want to do. Because they do it right in front of you. We no longer watch out for one another. Why get involved when it is such a bother. You may risk danger or have to conquer fear. To save a child without a care. And end the shedding of an innocence’s tear.

    Please let me know if you think it is time we all did something to stop things like this- Thank you

    July 30, 2009 at 11:12 am |
  30. Chris

    What I want to know is who's deciding on who gets to come into this country? They should be fired for bringing such a class of people in here and we should immediately send all of these people who believe this way back from where they came.

    July 30, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  31. DeeDee

    I feel so ignorant. I cannot imagine a mindset that endorses the rape of a young girl or anyone for that matter. How can this child be reconciled with her family given their mindset? My heart bleeds for her. Those boys raped her now her parents are raping her spirit.

    July 30, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  32. R. Maria Rilke

    As soon as this story was published in Phoenix, the father of the young girl came forward and said that he did not say anything like that. I don't know what the truth is now, but news organizations (and bloggers!) should take care to check facts and make retractions where necessary.

    July 30, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  33. Mrs. Eileen Curras widow to Hernandez (WWII)

    It is horrible that the United States has not taken serious measures in this situation. How can a whole family pretend to come to the United States and promote such behavior? How the safety of this child is is being done? Certainly the child needs professional help. I hope that situation in the Health System of America has not prevented or use to halt any professional help this child needs. I am happy to hear the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to talk about the case with Kyra.

    July 30, 2009 at 8:29 pm |
  34. Bob Holloway

    Good Morning Guys, Just wanted to thank Heidi for all her awesome reporting. Wow She is looking very Hot today. Let her the boys in Salt Lake are wishing her a Great weekend.....Bob H. In SLC, UT.

    July 31, 2009 at 9:16 am |
  35. mel

    Take a break,people,let it be about the little girl and what she's going through not LIBERIAN. III are very decent people if you don't know that. Haven't search been crime committed in american by american. . I strongly believed that most american forefathers came from some where and settle in america. Do your home work before running down judgment. Selfish.

    July 31, 2009 at 10:09 am |
  36. Prospero

    As a registered republican, I take exception at statements made by Mike Pence. Since this President came into office,we have consistently blamed the continuing economic decline squarely on his back. Now that things are begining to look a little rosy, we are going to give credit to some unknown factors? Who is going to buy this kind of stuff?

    August 2, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  37. Prospero

    This is very simple to resolve. Those Liberian refugee rapists... ship them back to Liberia. They can do it there...not here. We need to demonstrate a willingness to severely ostracize new immigrants who do not conform to our norms.

    August 2, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
  38. Jenny Browne

    It seems you are the one that needs sensitivity training. Your snide comments to the ambassador that "rape is not tolerated here" was rather condescending when he was trying to explain to you that there was a misunderstanding because the hospital had told the parents that the girl was alright. They of course thought it meant there was no rape and therefore said she was making trouble. It was later they learnt she was not ok.

    I would point out to you that when it comes to gender sensitivity issues, like the ambassador told you, Liberia ia is way ahead of here with its female president. You cannot extrapolate a war situation and use it to castigate a country.
    You should be ashamed of your tone and condescending attitude.

    August 11, 2009 at 3:12 pm |
  39. Steve

    First, care for that little girl who is an innocent victim. If her family cannot or will not support her, then find someone who can and will do so.

    Send the Liberian rapists and their families back to Liberia. They do not belong in the United States. Why are they here now? The Liberian Minister, Mr. Sele, is a talking head for the Liberia political machine. Send him back to Africa too.

    Get all of them out of this country. None of them belong here. If the justice system does not rule fairly on this matter, then the rapists and their families face a very uncertain future in America.

    August 11, 2009 at 3:25 pm |
  40. Jasmine

    This a horrible act committed on a young girl by children not that many years older. No child should ever have to go through this. But one comment made by Kyra Phillips implying somehow rape is part of a culturally based phenomenon in Liberia is disturbing and racist . Rape happens everywhere and is not foreign to any region of the world, especially in places that are affected by war and conflict. Even here it is common for victims to be blamed for crimes committed against them, whether they were in the wrong place at the wrong time or made themselves vulnerable. Rape is a crime and to point the finger about someones culture or country as to blame is ridiculous. Crimes happen everywhere. Race, nationality, and culture have nothing to do with it and are not the cause of it.

    August 11, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  41. Reynaldo Karroach

    March 6, 2021 at 2:09 pm |

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