JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
At Beretania Community Park near Aala Place, a group of boys played a game of basketball yesterday as a Honolulu Police Department patrol car was in the parking lot. An 11-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at the park Tuesday evening, leaving members of the community and park- goers outraged.
After rape of girl, kids stay away from park
The witness's father says the suspects are all students at nearby schools
FIVE young girls stood in a circle outside Beretania Community Park yesterday, chatting and laughing on a Kukui Gardens sidewalk. Every so often, the 10- and 11-year-olds looked longingly at the park's playground and its expanses of cool, green grass.
But they followed their parents' orders and stayed out of the park, which was deserted but for some teens playing basketball and a family having a picnic.
An 11-year-old girl was gang-raped in the park about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday by a group of boys whom she knew, police have said.
No arrests have been made in the case, which has spurred some parents to forbid their children from playing in the park. Others have even told their kids to stay indoors until the boys are caught.
"I don't want my daughter going there," said Lori Ledesma, mother of one of the girls who was playing outside the park.
Ledesma sat on the steps in front of her Kukui Gardens apartment yesterday, watching the group as they played. She said the gang rape has shocked the community and has many worried about their children's safety.
Police have provided few details on the case, but an 11-year-old friend of the victim who was with her when the rape happened has said that they were walking home from a function at Central Immediate School when a teenage boy she knows grabbed the girl and dragged her to a slide.
The boy sexually assaulted the victim, the victim's friend said, and then called five other boys over to do the same. One boy hit the victim in the face, police said.
Steven Rodrigues, the friend's father, said he has seen the boys alleged to be involved in the incident hanging around the community in the past.
"People are very shocked," Rodrigues said. "We're all watching for them (the suspects). Eventually, they're going to have to come home."
Rodrigues' daughter said that four of the alleged suspects attend Central Intermediate School and range in age from about 11 to 13, while one attends Kawananakoa Middle School and the sixth attends McKinley High School.
Rodrigues said residents have questions about how the rape could have happened in such an open place at a time when many adults and youth would have been around.
Several Kukui Gardens apartments overlook the park's playground, and security guards regularly patrol the area, Rodrigues said.
He plans to speak to the housing area's management on Monday about stepping up surveillance of the community and bringing back a "community policing" program, which was a collaboration between police and residents.
Rodrigues said the program stopped about a month ago.
He has told his daughter to stay out of the park and away from groups of boys in the community.