Twelve men have been charged with raping and sodomizing two underage girls.
Police say all of the alleged rapes happened on or near the Jacksonville State University campus in Alabama. Some of the suspects are reportedly students at the university.
Nine suspects have been identified, including Reece Barton, 19; Avory Triston Cosby, 20; Walker Harris, 18; James Lyle, 19; Christian Lane Homesely, 19; Caleb Matthew Lafollette, 21; Kyler Taran Morgan, 18; Seth Robert Emmenegger, 22 and Daniel Ralph George, 18, AL.com reported.
All have been charged with second-degree rape except for Harris, who was charged with second-degree sodomy.
Authorities said the suspects were charged after sexual encounters with two girls between the ages of 12 and 16. All of the charges appear to stem from one-on-one scenarios with the victims which occurred at different times between January and September of this year.
A family member of one of the girls filed a report with police in early September, leading to the arrests. In Alabama, second-degree rape is classified as sexual intercourse between someone aged 16 or older and someone who is between 12 and 15 years old.
Bill Broome, a lawyer representing one of the men, hit out at one of the victims, who he said was 15-years-old, but portrayed herself as 19-years-old on social media.Turkey launches military offensive in Syria as warplanes bomb Kurdish fighters
Broome told WBRC: ‘You got a 15-year-old female predator who is on social media – Tinder, Facebook – representing herself in glamour shots, we’ll call them, to be a 19-year-old.’
He claimed the girl pretended to be a transfer student and even knew class schedules and instructors names.
‘This is just wrong to label these young men as rapists and potentially have to register as sex offenders.’
Attorney Roger Appell said that it does not matter whether the girls were truthful about their ages, saying: ‘The fact that she lied about her age on Tinder on Facebook is of no consequence.
‘All the prosecution has to prove is that the victim was under the age of 16 and the defendant was two years or more older than the victim and that they had sexual intercourse,’ Appell continued.Donald Trump's best friend blasts president's 'shameless' desertion of Kurdish allies
Sam Monk, a lawyer for the university, said the girls communicated with the men by ‘electronic means’ and came onto campus grounds on multiple occasions.
Monk said the situation was ‘contained’ and added: ‘We as an institution and as a community are committed to maintaining a secure and trusted campus environment for our students, employees, visitors and guests. and we will continue with appropriate vigilance and campuswide education.’