New York April 13: No one intervened or reported to the police while a woman was being gang-raped like “wild animals preying” in broad daylight on a crowded public beach in Florida, a local official was quoted as saying.
Now, about a month after the assault, two college students have been arrested in neighbouring Alabama state and charged in the incident. Authorities said they were looking for a third person seen in the video that authorities stumbled upon during a separate shooting investigation.
“This is happening in broad daylight with hundreds of people seeing and hearing what is happening, and they are more concerned about spilling their beer than somebody being raped,” Sheriff Frank McKeithen said over the weekend while announcing the arrest at a press conference posted on Facebook.
As of Sunday, there have been no public protests in the US or editorials in major media over the incident that took place around March 10 in Panama City in Florida state during the mid-semester Spring college holidays.
The incident involving college students puts renewed focus on rampant sex assaults on college campuses across the US. “One in five women is sexually assaulted in college,” a White House Task Force report said last year.
In the Florida incident, McKeithen said that police in Troy, Alabama, alerted them on April 2 after they came across the video of the gang rape while investigating a shooting incident. Florida authorities then tracked down the victim, who told them that she had been drugged, and carried out the investigation that led to the arrests.
The victim not reporting the rape is not unusual in the US. “Most often”, the White House Task Force report said, the victim “does not report what happened. Many survivors are left feeling isolated, ashamed or (they are) to blame”.
The local newspaper, Panama City News Herald, reported that there were several such incidents.
Bay County Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction over the area “has gotten leads on other sexual batteries on the beach in broad daylight this year by following social media”, the newspaper said. “In one video, a crowd pours beer on a girl who appears to be incapacitated while a male performs oral sex on her.” That incident did not draw the attention or the reaction of the national US or international media.