One of the seven defendants in the 2009 Richmond High School gang rape case told a detective that he backhanded the victim across her face “because she wouldn’t shut up” during the assault, the detective testified in court today. “She was whining ‘No, no,'” Manuel Ortega, 20, allegedly told retired Richmond police detective Ken Greco, according to Greco’s testimony this morning in a preliminary hearing in the case. The hearing will allow a judge to determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. The victim, who was 16 at the time of the attack, told Greco the day after the alleged rape that she had gone to the high school’s homecoming dance on the night of Oct. 24, 2009. She had left the dance and was going to call her father to come pick her up when Cody Smith, 16, a boy she had known since seventh grade, started talking to her through a fence. He invited her over to come drink with him and his friends. Greco said the victim told him that Smith jumped over the fence and then walked her around to a courtyard area with picnic tables on the north side of campus so she wouldn’t have to jump the fence in her dress. The victim said there were about five other people at a picnic table and that they were drinking brandy that Smith said he had stolen, according to Greco. Greco said the victim told him that she didn’t ordinarily drink, but she was upset that night because she had just found out that her father was leaving her mother and her mother didn’t know about it yet. The group was passing a bottle of brandy around and the victim said she remembered chugging from it, Greco said. Then she told him she felt dizzy and doesn’t remember anything else until she woke up in the hospital with a tube down her throat. Greco said the victim told him she had not engaged in any sexual activity before she blacked out and that she would have said “no” and put a stop to it if anybody had tried to come on to her. Greco also testified that the day after the assault, he interviewed Ortega, who was arrested as he allegedly ran from the scene. Ortega allegedly told Greco that there were about 10 or 20 males assaulting the victim as waves of people came by to see what was happening. Somebody had lifted up the victim’s dress and people were taking pictures with their cell phone cameras, Greco said. People were also fondling her and one person urinated on her as she lay on the ground, Ortega allegedly told the detective. Ortega said his friend Salvador Rodriguez was the only person who tried to help the victim. He allegedly told them, “‘This is somebody’s sister, somebody’s daughter,'” Greco said, but somebody else said, “‘Hey, you don’t know that bitch.'” Ortega allegedly told the detective that somebody named “Joe” was the first to have sex with the victim. Greco said that during his investigation into the case, he also spoke with a man who told him he had been hanging out near the high school when somebody came up to him and asked if he wanted to have sex because there was a naked girl at the school. The man said he thought the situation sounded wrong and, after
about 20 minutes, he went home and told his roommates. One of his roommates called 911. That call came in to the Police Department’s dispatch center at 11:48 p.m. When police arrived, they saw a group of males run from the area. They found the victim bent over a metal bar underneath a picnic table with her dress pulled up to expose the lower part of her body. At first they thought she was dead, but when one of the officers shook her, she moaned. Smith and Ortega have both been charged in the case, along with San Pablo resident Ari Morales, 17; Pinole resident Marcelles Peter, 18; and Richmond residents John Crane Jr., 43, Jose Montano, 19 and Elvis Torrentes, 22. Smith, Morales and Peter were juveniles at the time of the assault but have been charged as adults. Greco’s testimony is continuing this afternoon in Contra Costa County Superior Court in Martinez.
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