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November 20, 2013

Suspects in Hollywood gang rape of teen charged as adults; release until trial at issue

A video of the vicious gang-rape of a 16-year-old Hollywood girl is part of the key evidence that Broward prosecutors hope will keep the juveniles charged in the crime behind bars until trial.

A video of the vicious gang-rape of a 16-year-old Hollywood girl is part of the key evidence that Broward prosecutors hope will keep the juveniles charged in the crime behind bars until trial.

But attorneys for the two girls arrested — Patricia Montes, 15, and Erica Avery, 16 — intend to seek bail on Thursday, meaning the suspects could well be home by Thanksgiving.

“This girl is only 15, and is only about 75 pounds and has no prior record,’’ Montes’ attorney, Hilliard Moldof, told Broward County Circuit Court Judge Lisa Porter on Wednesday in arguing for her release.

Porter scheduled the bond hearing for the girls for 4 p.m. Thursday. A third juvenile suspect, 17-year-old Dwight Henry, has not yet retained a lawyer.

The three juveniles, now charged as adults, were transferred from Broward’s juvenile detention center to adult prisons over the weekend. Two other suspects, Lanel Singleton, 18, and Jayvon Woolfork, 19, remain in Broward County prison without bond. All of them face two counts each of felony capital sexual assault and kidnapping.

Charging the juveniles as adults could mean harsher sentences, should they be convicted.

The rape, which one of the suspects recorded on his cellphone, has stunned even longtime law enforcement authorities accustomed to handling cases involving brutal violence.

It allegedly shows Montes — the victim’s best friend — restraining, taunting and beating the girl mercilessly until she agreed to have sex with Woolfork.

Broward County prosecutor Maria Schneider told the judge that the evidence will show that Montes and Avery not only committed the Nov. 2 attack, but orchestrated it, making them a danger to the community if they are released on bond.

Porter, however, questioned Schneider’s legal reasoning, pointing out that by law, juveniles are entitled to be released on bond. The prosecutor countered that she will argue Thursday that they should be held in pretrial detention because of violent nature of the crime.

The victim, a sophomore at South Broward High, made a brief appearance Wednesday outside the courtroom. She was hospitalized after the attack with extreme swelling of her head and eyes. Her eyes, which had been black and blue a two weeks ago, have almost healed.

“She is recovering physically, but mentally, it’s going to take a long time,’’ Schneider said.

The victim, in an interview with t Miami Herald after the attack, said she repeatedly refused to have sex with Woolfork, and the suspects continued to drag her around the house by her hair while kicking her in the head, telling her they would continue to beat her until she complied.

Finally, she said, she agreed because she feared that they would kill her.

Montes, whom the girl has been friends with since kindergarten, had invited the victim to a house on McKinley Street that night to listen to music and watch television. The girl, whose name is being withheld by police, said Montes, without warning, sprayed her with Mace, then, together with Avery and the other suspects, began wailing at her as they laughed and called her a whore, the girl told the Herald. Police said that Woolfork, whom the victim did not know, lived in the house with his sister.

“I still don’t really understand how they could have done this,’’ she said in the interview.

“I just kept my arms over my face and begged them to stop, but that only made them kick me harder.’’

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