Calling it one of the most “depraved” crimes in her 25-plus-year career, Broward Circuit Judge Lisa Porter reluctantly set bail for two teenaged girls accused of orchestrating the brutal gang rape of a 16-year-old Hollywood girl.
The girls, ages 15 and 16, wept near the end of the hearing as Porter tried to find the words to express her shock and disgust upon being shown a video of the attack that one of the girls recorded on her cellphone.
“The video is disturbing,” Porter said. “The conduct of these ladies is depraved, it is just unconscionable that people can treat other people like this. . . . Videos don’t lie and the video is there.”
Porter set bail at $100,000 for each suspect, and they will have to post 10 percent, or $10,000, to be released. They will have to wear ankle-monitoring devices and are not permitted to use the Internet. They were ordered not to contact the victim directly or indirectly.
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The girls, Patricia Montes, 15, and Erica Avery, 16, are charged with two counts each of felony armed sexual assault and kidnapping. They are both charged as adults. Their attorneys indicated it would be difficult for their families to post such a high bail.
The girls, each about 100 pounds, looked as if they could be sisters, sitting side by side with their attorneys at the defense table.
“You know judge, I realize that anyone looking at these two little girls would think, ‘God, they look harmless,’ “ prosecutor Maria Schneider said.
But then she began describing the video of the crime, detailing how the victim pleaded with them to stop as she held her arms over her face to protect herself from their unrelenting blows.
“The cruelty shown on this video . . . this was repeated over and over again . . . The girls are trying to remove her bra. You saw the victim sitting on the toilet crying, her face blown up and swollen from injuries, and then they beat her,” Schneider said.
During parts of the three-hour bail hearing, Avery grinned and rolled her eyes and had to be admonished by her lawyer to remain composed. Montes, who was the victim’s best friend, appeared stoic for most of the proceeding.
The judge, who was shown the video in her chambers before the hearing, appeared unsympathetic as defense lawyers tried unsuccessfully to show that the crime was simply a “fight” over a “beef” that the girls had.
Montes’ lawyer, Hilliard Moldof, argued that the video did not tell the whole story, saying it was “a snapshot of circumstances,” and that the victim’s statement was not being truthful.
But Porter interjected, expressing her dismay at downplaying such a heinous crime.
“What justification is there to drag that victim by her hair on the floor and punch her in the face?” the judge asked.
She later said she had no doubt that the two girls posed a danger to the community, but by law, she said, she had to release them on bond because of the technology that allows them to monitor the girls with ankle bracelets and GPS devices.
Family members of the two girls sat silently in the courtroom for the most part. The defendants’ mothers testified that they were “good girls’ who had never been in trouble other than minor arrests for marijuana possession and petty theft.
The victim, a 16-year-old South Broward High sophomore, said she was invited on Nov. 1 to a home in the 1600 block of McKinley Street in Hollywood. Montes, the victim’s best friend since kindergarten, invited her earlier that day, telling her that she missed hanging with her because the two had been estranged over a dispute involving a boy. According to the police report, the girl was watching TV and listening to music when Montes and Avery suddenly grabbed her, pinned her down and began kicking her in the head. They taunted her, called her names and told her that they would continue to beat her until she agreed to have sex with a 19-year-old man who lived in the house.
The girl refused, and Montes, Avery and three others continued to beat her, telling her that they wouldn’t let up until she complied, the report said. They then dragged her by her hair into a bedroom, where they stripped her of her clothes and the 19-year-old, identified as Jayvon Woolfork, raped her, it said.
Afterwards, they told her she could leave, as long as she left her shoes. Battered and bloody, she wandered into the street where she flagged down someone who took her to a relative’s home nearby.
She lost consciousness and was transported to Hollywood Memorial Hospital in Hollywood, where she remained for several days. Her head was swollen and she could not see. Doctors told police that she had broken two bones in her face.
Three others, Dwayne Henry, 17, of Hollywood; Lanel Singleton, 18, of North Miami; and Woolfork, 19, all face charges of capital felony sexual assault and kidnapping. They remain jailed pending their next court hearings.
Moldof argued that the video was “hearsay” and did not show the victim being raped, nor did it show her unclothed.
Avery, a high school dropout who last lived with her family in Coconut Creek, had a long history of petty theft, but no crimes more serious. Montes had been arrested for possession of marijuana just three weeks before the attack.
Montes’ mother, Patricia Dalecky, said she and her four children have lived in Hollywood for the past 20 years. She said Patricia had never been in trouble.
Dalecky said that the night of the attack Patricia led her to believe that she was at her father’s house.
“I did not know where she was,” Dalecky admitted.
When asked by Schneider about how a girl who had not been in much trouble could have committed such a brutal crime, Dalecky said, “I don’t know where it came from, but this is not my little girl.”