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HandWiki. 2010 Gang Rapes in Cleveland, Texas. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 22 June 2024).
HandWiki. 2010 Gang Rapes in Cleveland, Texas. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 22, 2024.
HandWiki. "2010 Gang Rapes in Cleveland, Texas" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 22, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 21). 2010 Gang Rapes in Cleveland, Texas. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "2010 Gang Rapes in Cleveland, Texas." Encyclopedia. Web. 21 November, 2022.
2010 Gang Rapes in Cleveland, Texas

The 2010 gang rapes in Cleveland, Texas were a series of acts of sexual violence committed by a group of adult men and teenage boys on an underage girl in the town of Cleveland, in Texas , USA.

sexual violence adult men cleveland

1. Background

The victim was the 11-year old daughter of Mexican immigrants, living in Cleveland, Texas, a "timber town"[1] of about nine thousand people in the Greater Houston metropolitan area and Liberty County. Her father was a former construction worker, unemployed at the time for a year and a half because of a back injury, while her mother was working making change in a slot game room.[2]

The group of perpetrators included students at the local high school, two of whom were members of the basketball team and one the son of a school-board member, and persons with criminal records, from selling drugs to robbery and, in one case, manslaughter. They ranged from middle schoolers to one 27-year-old, at the time of the crime.[3]

2. Discovery

On the Monday after Thanksgiving day, on 29 November 2010, a cell phone video clip with images of the sexual encounter between a group of males and a young female circulated in the cafeteria of Cleveland's high school. Some viewers recognized the girl as a 6th grader from the middle school next door.[2] A friend of the girl told a teacher what he had seen in the cell-phone video, as a school-district spokeswoman subsequently stated, and the police were alerted.[4][5]

3. Investigation

Police investigators identified and contacted the girl, whereupon she stated that, over the 2010 Thanksgiving holiday break, she was raped by a group of young men first at a house and then in a mobile home. According to a search warrant affidavit obtained by the media, police determined the video clip was recorded inside an abandoned mobile home on the city's northern outskirts, next to a Baptist church.[5] According to the subsequent, criminal indictments, the girl was assaulted on four separate occasions: the first in September, followed by three more throughout the fall of 2010. In January 2011, she was removed by social workers from her parents' home and taken to foster care.[2]

The investigation stirred racial tensions on account of the defendants all being African-Americans and the girl Hispanic,[6] in both the town and nationwide.[7] The event was publicized nationwide in the States and also abroad.[8][9]

On Monday 4 April 2011, nineteen defendants appeared in the court of Liberty County district judge Mark Morefield for their arraignment hearing, with six of them pleading "not guilty."[7]

4. Support for the Accused

The New York Times ' first report[3] focused on the impact of the crime on the Cleveland community.[10] The report came under criticism for its alleged "sympathy" for the accused,[11][12][13] to the point where the newspaper sent another reporter back at the place[14] and published a self-critical article.[15]

Quanell X, community leader and head of the New Black Panthers, was an "outspoken critic" of the victim. In a press conference in front of a Cleveland church, he asked rhetorically where the girl's parents were when this happened and why was "that child experiencing so much sex with so many African-American men." He also disputed the rape claims since, as he put it, the girl never actually yelled the word "rape" during the assault and did not make an "outcry" until after footage of the assault surfaced.[16] The media reported that the audience "cheered and hollered in agreement."[17]

Florida representative Kathleen Passidomo proposed that the state should step in and regulate the wardrobe of young girls.[18] Pasidomo referred to "an article about an 11 year old girl who was gang-raped in Texas by 18 young men because she was dressed like a 21-year-old prostitute.”[19]

5. Trials

In Texas, sexual assault against a person under 17 years of age is a second degree felony, and aggravated sexual assault a first degree felony.[20] Eventually, twenty-one persons were charged with crimes related to the gang rape.[21] Only two adult males requested trials, and juries handed each defendant a 99-year prison sentence. Eleven other adult males pleaded guilty to the charges against them and received 15-year sentences in exchange. All seven juveniles entered guilty pleas and received seven-year probated prison-sentences.[22] The twenty-first and last defendant pleaded guilty after a year long investigation whereby a DNA specimen identified him as being at the crime scene. The defendant received a reduced seven-year sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to indecently exposing himself to a child. All defendants sentenced to prison would be registered as sex offenders for ten years after completing the sentence.[22]

6. Aftermath

When the investigation started, the victim's family moved to another town after police detectives told the parents that they were in danger,[23] while the girl who was reported as raped was placed by the Child Protective Services in the care of the Girls' Haven in Beaumont, Texas. In December 2011, she ran away from the residential facility and was "on the streets for about a week," as the Jefferson County prosecutor stated. He revealed that, at some point, she met a 30-year-old male with a prior conviction as a drug dealer in Fort Bend County, who subsequently assaulted her at his apartment in Beaumont. The assailant was arrested and pleaded guilty in September 2012 to aggravated sexual assault of a child in exchange for deferred probation.[24] In 2013, the girl revealed she was pregnant, allegedly from her "15-year old boyfriend," and that they would keep the baby.[25]


  1. Jarboe Russell, Jan (July 2011). "The Worst Hard Time". Texas Monthly. 
  2. Dobie, Kathie (6 September 2011). "The Girl from Trails End". GQ. 
  3. McKinley, James C. (8 March 2011). "Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town". The New York Times. 
  4. Williams, Mary Elizabeth (9 March 2011). "The New York Times’ sloppy, slanted child rape story". Salon. 
  5. Lozano, Juan A. (9 March 2011). "18 arrested in assaults on 11-year-old Texas girl". NBC News. 
  6. Hopper, Jessica (18 March 2011). "Texas Girl Allegedly Gang Raped Over Three Month Period". ABC News. 
  7. Martinez, Edecio (5 April 2011). "Cleveland, Texas gang rape suspects appear in court". CBS News. 
  8. Vely, Yannick (9 March 2011). "Le Viol Collectif qui choque l’Amérique" (in French). Paris Match. 
  9. Freeman, Hadley (3 September 2013). "The painful lesson of the Cherice Moralez rape trial". The Guardian. 
  10. On the 8 March NYT article, a hospital worker, who said she knew several of the defendants, was quoted: “It’s just destroyed our community. These boys have to live with this the rest of their lives.” Also quoted was the spokeswoman for the Cleveland Independent School District: “It’s devastating, and it’s really tearing our community apart. I really wish that this could end in a better light.” There were also quotes from local people who questioned the attitude of the victim's family, such as a neighbor of her parents: "Where was her mother? What was her mother thinking?”
  11. McCleland, Mac (9 March 2011). "The New York Times’ Rape-Friendly Reporting". Mother Jones. 
  12. Amira, Dan (11 March 2011). "A Lot of People in Cleveland, Texas, Blame 11-Year-Old for Being Raped". New York magazine. 
  13. Cobb, William Jelani (29 March 2011). "Cleveland, Texas and Gender Jim Crow". The Nation. 
  14. Brisbane, Arthur S. (11 March 2011). "Gang Rape Story Lacked Balance". The New York Times. 
  15. The 11 March NYT article stated: "The outrage [against the previous NYT report] is understandable. The story dealt with a hideous crime but addressed concerns about the ruined lives of the perpetrators without acknowledging the obvious: concern for the victim. While the story appeared to focus on the community’s reaction to the crime, it was not enough to simply report that the community is principally concerned about the boys and men involved – as this story seems to do. If indeed that is the only sentiment to be found in this becomes important to report... as well [of] voices of professional authorities or dissenting community members who will at least address, and not ignore, the plight of the young girl involved."
  16. According to the Houston Press 2014 report, Quanell X claimed the investigation into the rape was being "run by the KKK" and stated to the African American community of the town: "We do not want someone with a malicious, racist motive to rid your community of an entire generation of black men."
  17. Leicht, Angelica (19 December 2014). "Why Does Quanell X Support Some Rape Victims But Shame Others?". Houston Press. 
  18. Linkins, Jason (13 March 2011). "In Wake Of Texas Gang Rape, Florida Lawmaker Proposes School Dress Code Legislation". Huffington Post. 
  19. Passidomo claimed that "it’s incumbent upon [the state] to create some areas where students can be safe in school and show up in proper attire, so what happened in Texas doesn’t happen to [Florida's] students.”
  20. "Penal Code - Title 5, Chapter 22: Assaultive Offenses". Texas Department of Criminal Justice. October 2017. 
  21. "Texas: Four Get 15-Year Sentences in Gang Rape of 11-Year-Old Girl". The New York Times (Associated Press). 21 September 2012. 
  22. Horswell, Cindy (11 October 2013). "21st assailant sentenced in Cleveland gang rape". Houston Chronicle. 
  23. McKinley, James C.; Goode, Erica (28 March 2011). "3-Month Nightmare Emerges in Rape Inquiry". The New York Times. 
  24. Horswell, Cindy (29 December 2012). "Defendant in Cleveland gang rape case gets life sentence". Houston Chronicle. 
  25. "Girl, 14, now pregnant — was victim at age 11 of repeated gang rape". The New York Daily News. 22 May 2013. 
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