2 Fla. teens accused of gang raping woman, forcing her son, 12, to join in the assault
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Two teenagers were accused of gang raping a woman and forcing her 12-year-old son to join in the attack, then beating him and pouring cleaning solution into his eyes.
Authorities allege Avion Lawson, 14, and Nathan Walker, 16, were among a group of about 10 masked suspects who forced their way into the woman's apartment in a crime-ridden housing project the night of June 18.
The two were being held without bail Friday on suspicion of armed sexual battery by multiple perpetrators, sexual performance by a child, armed home invasion and aggravated battery. Both were arrested this week, but formal charges had not been filed. Authorities said the two would be charged as adults.
"Any rape case is horrible, but this takes it to another level, something you can't think of even in your worst dreams," police spokesman Ted White said.
According to the police report, a man knocked on the woman's door at about 9 p.m. and told her he had a flat tire. The mother and son, whom police have not identified, went outside and were ambushed by a group of gun-wielding suspects.
The victims told police they were forced back into their home and beaten and sexually assaulted. According to authorities, the men raped, sodomized and beat the woman, then forced her son to participate in the assault at gunpoint, making him have sex with his mother in front of them.
The boy was then beaten and had numerous household cleaning liquids poured into his eyes, according to the police report.
The suspects also stole a few hundred dollars worth of cash and jewelry, White said.
White said more arrests were expected, but he would not say whether authorities had identified additional suspects. The teens in custody were not cooperating, but Lawson confessed to taking part in the attack, White said. Walker has denied involvement, White said.
DNA evidence in a condom found in the victims' home linked Lawson to the crime, police said. Investigators also say they found a palm print belonging to Walker at the scene.
The victims did not suffer life-threatening injuries and have been released from the hospital, White said.
"They're going through the county victim services for counseling," he said.
Lawson lived in Dunbar Village, the hardscrabble project where the attack occurred. Walker was apparently visiting a friend there, White said.
Authorities believe the suspects all knew each other from the neighborhood, but they don't think they knew the victims directly.
Prosecutors have 21 days from the time a suspect is arrested to formally file charges. Lawson was arrested Tuesday. Walker was arrested Thursday.
Walker made a first court appearance on Friday, after which his father, also named Nathan Walker, spoke briefly.
"My son has a good heart," the elder Walker said outside court. "I can't believe my son would do something like this. I don't teach my son violence so I don't understand."
Walker's attorney, Robert Gershman, said Friday he intended to enter a not guilty plea on behalf of his client once charges are formally filed. He would not comment further.
A telephone message left at the office of Lawson's public defender was not immediately returned.