Gang Rape of 11-Year-Old Girl Sparks Racial Tensions in Texas Town

Posted: March 13, 2011 in US News

JESSICA HOPPER
ABC News
March 13, 2011

The alleged gang rape of an 11-year-old girl by at least 18 boys and young men has sparked shame and outrage in a tiny Texas town, but it has also stirred racial tensions that threaten to split the East Texas hamlet.

All of the defendants arrested are African-American and the girl is Hispanic.

The hardscrabble town of Cleveland, which is 45 miles from Houston, has fewer than 8,000 residents and since the saw mill closed the biggest employers are Wal-Mart and a nearby prison. In a town this small, everyone is a neighbor, but that small town ambience is being severely strained.

The rape allegedly occurred last November, and the list of suspects has been growing as arrests keep coming. It’s not clear whether more arrests are in the works.

The suspects range in age from 14 to 26, include stars on the high school’s basketball team as well as the son of a school board member.

But as the investigation drags on, the shock and indignation has been tinged with an undercurrent of racial tension.

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