Lack of report on rape disturbs police
The public park where the alleged rape occurred is near a housing complex
The alleged gang rape of an 11-year-old girl in a public park has police and community leaders asking how such a brutal attack could occur within earshot of a housing complex, yet no one called police.
"It amazes me that at a quarter to 8 that night, nobody heard this girl screaming and nobody called," Honolulu Police Department Maj. Henry "Butch" Robinson said yesterday after inspecting Beretania Community Park, where a schoolgirl was reported assaulted and gang-raped by six boys on Tuesday night.
As of last night, police had made no arrests, and they gave no further details on the alleged attack.
Robinson, who is in charge of police HPD District 1 where the park is located, said he was sure the suspects would be caught soon.
"We'll catch them," he said.
Robinson also noted that the park is well within earshot of those living at Kukui Gardens public housing.
"We're so sick that this happened," he said. "Someone had to have heard this. All they had to do is pick up their phone, and we would have come flying."
Downtown Neighborhood Board Chairwoman Lynne Matusow said based upon what she sees at neighborhood board meetings, Robinson is likely right.
"People are always complaining about something they want police to respond to, but then you ask them when it happened and they say 'three weeks ago,'" she said. "Something happens, and they don't want to call 911 but they complain about it later.
"I believe if someone heard something, they didn't do anything."
But one area resident, whose 11-year-old daughter was in the park at the time of the alleged rape, said the park is not well lit, and people likely thought the victim's screaming was in play.
Steven Rodrigues, who lives in the nearby Mayor Wright Homes complex, also said he thought the police are pointing fingers to "cover up" the fact that they have made no arrests.
Rodrigues said his daughter was "screaming and yelling" when her friend was being raped. "People were looking at her. They saw her," he said, "but they never knew what was going on."
He also said "there's no way anyone could see anything" from the Kukui Gardens apartments that overlook the park.
"Maybe they could have heard things," he said, "but they were thinking, 'That's a regular thing.' People play in the park."
Rodrigues' daughter has said that she and the victim were walking home from an evening function at Central Immediate School on Tuesday night when a teenage boy she knows grabbed her friend and dragged her to a slide.
The boy sexually assaulted the girl, the friend said, and then called five other boys over to do the same. One boy allegedly hit the victim in the face, police said.
"We're treating it as a credible case right now," said police Maj. Mark Nakagawa, who heads HPD's Criminal Investigation Division. "If we do make positive identification, we will try to arrest, but we're still working on that."
This case and another alleged rape, at Kapolei Regional Park on Wednesday, spurred Mayor Mufi Hannemann to speak about park safety yesterday.
The Kapolei incident involved a 19-year-old woman and is unrelated to the Beretania Community Park attack.
"I think it's just outrageous and it's deplorable that we have people in our community that engage in this type of behavior," Hannemann said. "I feel very badly for the victims. We obviously want to redouble our efforts to see how we can prevent this from happening."
Hannemann also said the community needs to be "much more vigilant and stronger in terms of being the eyes and ears of these types of despicable behavior."
"They need to report these situations before these actual acts occur. If they're seeing illicit activity taking place -- crowds of rowdy young people getting together and doing these (things), whatever it is, in these parks -- let us know beforehand if we need to send a 911 call to get them to move. I just think we often wait until after it occurs, so we've got to be much more proactive."
Robinson said the area surrounding the Beretania park is frequented by drug dealers and prostitutes but that it is also heavily patrolled by police.
"We've got a bike detail, seven men, who go down there and flood the area, we have CRU (Crime Reduction Units) that go out there," Robinson said. "It's a Weed-and-Seed area, so the drug dealers we arrest are prohibited from coming back to that area.
"We're active ... we're proactive. We don't just respond to something like this."
According to Rodrigues and his daughter, 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.
Star-Bulletin reporters B.J. Reyes and Mary Vorsino contributed to this report.