Four men charged in gang rape of nine-year-old Utah girl

Reuters News
|
Posted: Apr 05, 2016 5:01 PM

(Reuters) - Four men have been charged with raping a 9-year-old girl in a Utah home on Easter Sunday as her mother smoked methamphetamine in the garage, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Uintah County Attorney G. Mark Thomas said first-degree felony charges of rape and sodomy of a child had been filed against all of the suspects by late Monday.

The four men - Larson RonDeau, 36, Josiah RonDeau, 20, Jerry Flatlip, 29, and Randall Flatlip, 26 - made their first court appearances on Tuesday, Thomas said.

They were not permitted to enter pleas at that first appearance in accordance with Utah law, he said.

Public defenders Clint Hendricks and Greg Lamb, who represent two of the men, could not be immediately reached for comment. Thomas said he was not sure which suspects were being represented by Hendricks and Lamb.

Two of the four suspects had not yet been assigned counsel.

The Uintah County Sheriff's Office said the girl's mother was visiting friends in the town of Vernal, about 175 miles east of Salt Lake City. The mother was not officially identified.

Investigators said that as the child slept on a couch, the mother went into the garage and began smoking meth. The girl was taken to another room and raped by the four men, according to a statement from the sheriff's department.

Thomas said the four men were present in the room throughout the sexual assault and took turns raping the girl.

The child was not hospitalized after the attack and has been taken into protective government custody, Thomas said. The mother has not been arrested.

Sheriff's deputies took a report of the rape on March 29 and arrested Larson RonDeau that day, the office said. The three others were arrested between March 31 and April 1.

Thomas said each charge carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 25 years to life. Each charge is also enhanced for being carried out as a gang rape, which would add an additional five years to the sentence.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Sara Catania and Bill Trott)