PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island police announced that seven men are in custody and another is wanted for a 2019 sex assault officials called “despicable, degrading and reprehensible” during a press conference Wednesday.
Providence Police Col. Hugh Clements said the men attacked a 16-year-old girl during a December, 2019 house party.
Clements said the girl was given alcohol and marijuana shortly before the eight men forced themselves on her. He said a video of the assault was posted to Facebook.
“Not only did they criminally, viciously assault her, but they completely violated her in so many inhumane ways,” Clements said.
“This incident is horrifying, devastating, disturbing on so many levels to this young girl, to her family, and to this community,” he continued. “They should be held to the highest extent of criminal prosecution.”
Clements said the video helped investigators identify the men involved, all ranging in age from 19 to 25 years old. All but one of the suspects are Providence residents:
- Keith Erving Colon, 24, of Providence
- Jose Vargas, 18, of Providence
- Carlos Chacon, 19, of Providence
- Malcolm Baptista, 18, of Providence
- Richard Tarell Chester, 19, of Seekonk
- Luis A. Cabrera, 18, of Providence
- Luis Luna, 19, of Providence
An eighth suspect, identified as Carlos Vasquez, remains at large. He’s wanted on charges of assault with intent to commit sexual assault and conspiracy, Clements said.
Clements commended the bravery of the victim for coming forward and said she is being supported by several agencies.
“It’s easy to say ‘come forward,’ but if you’re the one who has to move forward on this case and leave a statement and identify the people and put your right hand up and testify in court and get grilled by a defense attorney, or in this case, eight defense attorneys, it’s easy to say it, but I give her a lot of credit, I really do,” he said.
Clements said several search warrants were conducted over the course of the investigation that, in some cases, uncovered firearms. He said additional arrests and charges against the men may be forthcoming.