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15-year-old charged in gang rape to be prosecuted as adult

Updated April 26, 2017 - 9:52 pm

A 15-year-old boy charged in the gang rape of a 14-year-old special education student will be prosecuted in the adult justice system, a Clark County Family Court judge ruled Wednesday.

The teen, Leby Urquilla, is one of four boys charged, and the only juvenile to be certified as an adult as of Wednesday. Two adults are also jailed in connection with the case: Jose Mejia-Henriquez, 18, and the boy’s father, Leby Alas-Gomez, 39.

The victim, who has the mental capacity of a 7- or 8-year-old, told police she was sexually assaulted by at least six males on three separate occasions in November. The accusations came to light after a video depicting the girl being used in group sex acts began circulating around Del Sol Academy in December.

“They treated this special needs girl like a piece of cattle or property, to do with what they wanted,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Kimberly Adams said Wednesday in a small juvenile courtroom.

She called the acts “heinous and egregious” while arguing for Urquilla to be tried as an adult.

Urquilla sat silently as a court interpreter translated Adams’ words into Spanish, often looking down at his lap, then at the judge.

A key piece of evidence — one of the videos shared throughout the high school — captured part of one gang rape incident, Adams said.

In the footage, the girl can be seen trying to get up while being sexually assaulted, but “they would push her back down,” Adams said.

“She repeatedly said to stop, but they don’t,” she said. “She tries to cross her legs while on her stomach, but (Urquilla) separates them.”

The victim was not at the hearing Wednesday, but her mother wiped away a tear as Adams continued, describing Urquilla as a calculated predator and the girl as “one of the most vulnerable victims of our society.”

“It appears she was used and groomed by (Urquilla),” Adams said. The girl initially liked Urquilla and wanted to fit in; she often ate lunch with the boys at school. But the relationship was about control, Adams argued.

“If he said he was hungry, she would give him her lunch,” she said. “Eventually (Urquilla) began to invite (the victim) to his apartment, and initially, she would say no. And then, after several times, she finally said OK.”

Public defender Timothy O’Brien said the boy, originally from El Salvador, had been in the United States only for about a year. He said the boy’s father created a home life with an “unrelenting” sexual atmosphere, in which prostitutes were coming in and out of the home and pornography was played “like music in an elevator.”

Yet despite this exposure to sex at such a young age, O’Brien defended Urquilla by saying the boy performed “in a sexually naive way” in the video.

Adams retorted: “Part of the problem there may have been that he didn’t have a willing participant.”

Urquilla is due in court May 4.

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.

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