NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 22, 2008

Prosecutors: Rape victim had begged to be taken home

SALEM — Four Salem High School students have been charged in the violent gang rape of a 17-year-old girl who thought they were giving her a ride home after a basketball game in Lynn, prosecutors said.

Luis Arias, Rafael Nina-Brito and Harold Baltodano, all 18, and Justin Louf, 17, each pleaded not guilty to aggravated rape, a felony that could carry a life sentence, at their arraignments Tuesday in Lynn District Court, where they were ordered held on $10,000 cash bail each. It was unclear whether any of the suspects made bail.

The four are due back in court on March 11 for a probable cause hearing.

The incident started after the girl attended a basketball game at Lynn English High School with a girlfriend Friday night, then went to the other girl's house, where she called several friends trying to find a ride home to Salem, a prosecutor said during a hearing yesterday in Salem Superior Court, where one of the teens was appealing his bail.

Eventually, she was offered a ride home by Baltodano, an acquaintance, who was with some friends.

At some point while at her friend's home, the girl drank some Hennessey cognac and some Hpnotiq, a flavored liqueur, and got into a minivan, according to the prosecutor's account. She was seated between Nina-Brito and Baltodano, both of Lynn, with Arias at the wheel and Louf in the front passenger seat. Arias and Louf both live in Salem.

The girl knew who Arias was because she had seen him at school, she told police. She did not know the other two.

As she rode, she began feeling the effects of the alcohol, she told police. Then one of the teens allegedly pulled out some marijuana, which she acknowledged trying once when it was offered to her.

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