SAN FRANCISCO, US (AFP) - Four teenagers accused of gang-raping a 15-year-old girl outside her homecoming dance were arraigned Thursday as police hunted for more suspects in the horrific sexual assault.
The attack, which authorities say might have included as many as 10 young men, occurred last weekend at Richmond High School in a working-class community east of San Francisco.
Police say a crowd of young men watched the two-hour sexual assault, and some took pictures of it on their cell phones. None of those present at the attack reported it to police.
Authorities said the girl had left the dance and was planning to call her father for a ride home when a friend convinced her to join a group drinking in a secluded portion of the school campus.
Police said the girl fell into a stupor after drinking brandy, and was then attacked.
The case has triggered a US media frenzy and agonized soul-searching about how so many people could apparently have stood by and done nothing to intervene as the assault took place.
The four young men arraigned Thursday face life in prison if convicted. One pleaded not guilty Thursday, while the others delayed entering a plea. They are due back in court November 5. A fifth man has been arrested, but not charged.
Prosecutors said that three of those charged are minors - aged 15, 16 and 17 - but have been charged as adults because of the callousness of the alleged crime.