MINT HILL, N.C. (WBTV) – Some friends and family members are speaking out after five teens were charged in the violent sexual assault of a 17-year-old girl near Charlotte Thursday.
Just after noon on Thursday officers responded to the 4900 block of Stoney Trace Drive for a report of a naked female lying in the grass. Officials say they found a 17-year-old girl with apparent signs of violent sexual assault.
Jhovany Roman, 17, Felix Reyes, 16, Eduardo Garcia, 16, and two juveniles are charged in the case.
Antoine Lockhart goes to school with the teens and said he was shocked to hear the accusations.
“They were my friends. I don’t know what’s gotten into them. I don’t know what made them do something like that,” Lockhart said. “They were drinking liquor at the same time and I guess they just raped a girl.”
In court, Garcia appeared to have two family members there. They stressed that he is not facing any rape charges.
A family member for Roman says all the kids involved played hooky from school and had a party at the apartment of one of the 15-year-olds. This family member said after the first court appearance that at least one of the kids shot video of what happened and that detectives have the video.
He stressed that based on the video, his cousin Roman should not be facing rape charges and he spoke with police Friday morning about it. He said he wants the evidence to play out in court. The family member said he has a daughter and seeing just a screenshot of the video made him sick and says if the kids are guilty, they deserve to rot in jail.
He didn’t want to share his name because he believes it is embarrassing to the family.
Police said the investigation is ongoing and it’s possible more people may be involved. Anyone with information is asked to call the Mint Hill Police Department.
The victim was found in the grass of an apartment complex named Victoria Park. There is a security gate, but people who live there said it doesn’t feel secure.
“We’re supposed to have a security gate. Is the gate secure? No,” Tracy Minor said.
Minor has lived at Victoria Park for almost six years. She was upset to hear a teenager was raped.
“That’s a hurting feeling right there. Once you do that to a person, both lives are ruined, the one that’s going to jail and the one you done it to,” Minor said.
Another woman who lives in the complex was upset by the information as well. Alicia Hunt said it’s scary.
“I was a little bit nervous because I stay here by myself,” Hunt said. “I was shocked. I was really shocked.”
Roman, Garcia, and Reyes appeared via video screen from the Mecklenburg County jail in court. The judge appointed a public defender to each of their cases. She set their next court dates for Nov. 30 and Dec. 11.
All were ordered to have no contact with the victim and with each other.
Garcia is eligible for pre-trial release because he’s only facing conspiracy charges.