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Witness: Gang Rape Victim Pleaded for Help, No One Paid Attention

September 21, 1988

SAN DIEGO, Texas (AP) _ A 19-year-old woman scratched her attackers, cried out in vain for help and fainted while she was being gang-raped on the hood of a car, a witness facing charges in the case testified Wednesday.

Prosecution witness Jose Carlos Briones, 29, testified for the second day in the sexual assault trial of Orlando Garza, the first of 10 men being tried in the case. All have pleaded innocent.

During the attack the woman was crying, ″Help me, please help me,″ Briones said in Spanish, testifying with an interpreter in District Court in Duval County. But there was no response from the crowd gathered for an illegal cockfight in a shed nearby, he said.

When the 23-year-old Garza was raping and sodomizing the woman, ″She was moaning and groaning. She had tears in her eyes,″ Briones said.

″I was the only one who told them to leave her alone,″ said Briones, a San Diego resident who admitted fondling the victim and being impotent that day from drinking a case of beer while celebrating his birthday.

Briones and Garza are among 10 men indicted on charges ranging from kidnapping to aggravated kidnapping to sexual assault after the woman reported that as many as 23 men abducted and raped her over a period of several hours the night of March 26-27.

A doctor who examined the woman several hours after the alleged attack testified Wednesday the victim was bruised and scratched, and that her cervix was bruised.

″She told me she had been sexually assaulted by as many as 20 to 23 men,″ said Dr. Vilma Garcia.

Briones said he saw several of the other gang-rape defendants assaulting the woman.

One of them, Felipe Chew, sexually assaulted her with a beer bottle, Briones said, and added, ″Right after it happened, she just fainted.″

″I asked him ’Would you like for somebody to do that to you?‴ Briones said. ″He called me an ox.″

Chew, a 28-year-old Mexican national, faces sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping charges in the case.

Garza held the woman’s wrists during part of the alleged attack on the hood of the car in a rural subdivision north of this southern Texas town of 5,000, Briones said.

″He (Garza) told me to hold her because she was scratching him,″ Briones said.

The witness said later in the alleged attack, Garza was holding one of the woman’s feet and tried to force Briones to perform oral sex on her while others helped restrain her.

When defense attorney Albert Pena asked him if the woman was making sounds of pleasure, Briones answered, ″It was nothing about being happy.″

Under cross examination by Pena, who has questioned Briones’ credibility, the witness said said he is a heroin and cocaine user with a sixth-grade education. According to a court-ordered psychiatric report, he suffers from alcoholic blackouts.

Assistant District Attorney Rodolfo Gutierrez said Tuesday that he had promised to recommend probation for Briones in exchange for his testimony against his co-defendants.

Briones, however, said he did not remember such a deal being made.

He said the only help he had received from the prosecutors was assistance in dialing the telephone to call his court-appointed attorney, J.M. Alvarez of Rio Grande City. ″I don’t know how to dial a telephone,″ said Briones.

Garza, a San Diego resident, also faces a kidnapping charge in the case.

Sexual assault is punishable by two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

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