Leaders speak out in controversial rape case

March 28, 2011 4:15:05 PM PDT
The arrest of 19 boys and men in connection with the sexual assault of an 11-year-old girl in Cleveland, north of Houston, has sent shockwaves through the entire community. The victim and her family have gone into hiding as some question their liability in this disturbing case. This all started with some statements earlier this month by a well-known activist who questioned how involved the girl's parents were in her life. On Monday, those remarks were criticized and challenged.

On March 10, in Cleveland, there was a rally focused on the now 19 defendants accused of raping an 11-year-old girl. The event was organized by community activist Quanell X. The defendants are black and the girl is Hispanic.

Among Quanell X's statements at the event was, "How does a child get from one community to another and nobody in her home has any idea of what's going on? Stop by her parents' house and ask a serious question about how this happened from September to November and they knew nothing?"

On Monday, a group of Hispanic advocates pushed back.

"Transferring the responsibility of 19 perpetrators to the shoulders of this child's parents is unspeakable," said Yolanda Black Navarro with AAMA. "Comments made about this 11-year-old's way of dressing, her parents' supervision and/or lack thereof, is unacceptable."

Houston City Council Member Jolanda Jones added, "I'm just asking that we stay focused. I'm just asking that we not look at all the stuff that people are throwing on the wall to distract us from the real issue, which is, a baby was violated."

The Houston Area Women's Center agrees.

"The point is, she's a victim," said Rebecca White with the Houston Area Women's Center. "She did not choose this. The perpetrators chose to commit the crimes. Those are the questions. That's where the focus should be."

Quanell X says he may try to meet with Hispanic groups on Tuesday to explain his position.