From NBC Affiliate KPRC in Houston
CLEVELAND, Texas — Some of the suspects charged in connection with the gang rape of an 11-year-old girl appeared in court on Monday.
Cleveland police said the sixth-grade student was assaulted inside an abandoned trailer over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Sixteen people have been charged in the case, including four Cleveland High School students who were charged last week with aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14.
As many as five juvenile suspects were in court on Monday. Their names were withheld because they are minors.
In the 75th District Court, Jamarcus Napper, 18; Jared McPherson, 18; Kelvin King, 21; Marcos Porchia, 26; and Isaiah Ross, 21, appeared before the judge.
Ross’ attorney said even more names could be added to the suspect list.
“I don’t know the exact number of people involved. I’ve heard as many as 28 or more,” defense attorney James Evans said.
Evans said Ross is accused of multiple offenses in the case for encounters with the victim dating before the Nov. 28 incident and after.
“We do believe that she had a desire to be a willing participant in this tragic, very tragic — but we are working through it,” Evans said.
Evans represents four suspects in the case, and said the number of those implicated seems to grow by the day.
“Sixteen or 17 who have been arrested and there is additional people who are slated for the grand jury, so I really don’t know when it’s going to stop,” Evans said.
Six men were previously arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14. If convicted, the suspects face 25 years to life in prison.
Police arrested four men on charges of continuous sexual assault of a child.
The girl was removed from school shortly after the rape allegation came to light. She is being taught outside a traditional classroom setting, school officials said.
Court documents in the case show evidence in the case is circulating on cellular phones in Cleveland schools.
The documents read, “Victim stated that digital still images and digital video images of the sex acts were recorded by one or more individuals using cellular telephones.”
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Cleveland police at 281-592-2622.