Three teens in Mississippi were arrested and charged with kidnapping and sexual assault offenses after allegedly broadcasting an attack on a 23-year-old woman with special needs to Facebook Live.
The video was shared 1,500 times and gained 84,000 views before it was removed, reports the New York Post.
Officers were called to a house in Gulfport Tuesday morning where police discovered a recording of the assault at the scene and interviewed several suspects who were reportedly intoxicated.
“I wish people would look at just how warped our society has become,” Chief Leonard Papania told reporters at a news conference Wednesday.
“We videotape pain and suffering, then we share it and we view it over and over. And I don’t doubt this story will be dead in two days and everybody [will] move on to something else and you still have a victim of a crime.”
There are currently three suspects in custody but Papiana told reporters that he guaranteed there would more arrests and more charges forthcoming, especially if the mental capacity of the victim could be proven.
Haleigh Alexis Hudson, 19, surrendered to police on charges of felony kidnapping and sexual assault. In the video, Hudson could be heard saying, “She ain’t going home” insisting that the victim would perform the sexual acts “until her throat swells up.” Hudson is being held on a $400,000 bond set by Harrison County Justice Court Judge Brandon Ladner.
Ezzie Johnson, who police believe filmed the assault, and Kadari Fabien Booker, both 17, have also been arrested and charged with kidnapping. Booker was also charged with sexual assault.
Johnson’s bond was set at $200,000 while Booker’s is $500,000. Chief Papania confirmed that Johnson will be tried as an adult.
“Once again we are witnessing the dark side of social media… I can’t help but be disturbed by the incredible numbers of shares and views of this crude and despicable event. It speaks loudly about our culture,” Police Chief Leonard Papania said.
Responding to criticism of police handling of the investigation, Papania said, “Proper justice as established by our constitution takes time,” adding that police cannot operate “at the speed of Facebook.”
“Viral videos last just for the moment until everybody moves on to the next stupid video. There is a victim in all of this, it is important that our criminal justice system protects that victim and seeks proper justice.”
Addressing reporters questions, Papania added, “Y’all are gonna forget about this, but we’re gonna be dealing with it… they’re (the investigating officers) gonna be pulling this case together and we’re gonna be trying to put people in prison for this horrible act.”
Facebook has faced repeated criticism for failing to protect the public from such extreme and objectionable material following multiple cases of Facebook livestreams depicting sexual assault, violence and even death.
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