As you may recall, in 2010, an 11-year-old girl was gang-raped by a group of men and boys in Cleveland, Texas. Yesterday, the victim took the witness stand in Liberty, Texas, to testify against Eric McGowen, 20, the first of 14 adults to face trial (six juveniles also are charged in the crime). The girl, using a pseudonym, testified for an hour and a half. In the afternoon, the court took a 10 minute break. When proceedings resumed, McGowen had vanished.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the girl was using the name "Regina" as she tookd the stand.
Regina, dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt with a gold cross around her neck, smiled nervously and softly answered questions about several sexual encounters that occurred over a five-month period in 2010. But her demeanor changed, a tear sliding down one cheek, when the prosecutor showed a graphic video of her.
That was one of the cellphone videos of the alleged assaults that went viral around the Cleveland School District that triggered the investigation. In it, a young man appears to be having anal sex with her.
She identified McGowen as the voice laughing in the background, shouting "beat that ho!"
Regina, now 13, often had difficulty remembering names and how all the assaults occurred, but she did recall having oral sex with McGowen and identified him as the one in another video sexually assaulting her with a beer bottle.
Judge Mark Morefield issued a bench warrant for McGowen and raised his bail from $35,000 to $250,000. In addition, Morefield declared that the trial would go on. McGowen is charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child and faces up to life in prison if convicted. Was this life sentence on his mind as Regina testified? Or was he so horrified by his own actions that the urge to flee overwhelmed him?
The AP reports: "The Liberty County Sheriff's Office had no update early Thursday on whether the suspect had been found."
Defendant on trial in Cleveland gang rape case disappears [Houston Chronicle]
Suspect escapes during Texas 11-year-old girl rape trial [AP via The Grio]
Image via Andrey Bayda/Shutterstock.