HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Two Connecticut high school football players have been charged in sexual assault cases that, like a recent high-profile Ohio rape case, have led to online taunts directed at an accuser.
The two 18-year-old Torrington High School players, Edgar Gonzalez and Joan Toribio, were charged with felony second-degree sexual assault and other crimes last month in cases involving different 13-year-old girls. Toribio also was charged two weeks ago in another second-degree sexual assault case.
A state judge sealed details of the allegations from public view. Both teens have pleaded not guilty to all charges. The arrests were first reported by The Register Citizen newspaper.
On Wednesday evening, Torrington police Lt. Michael Emanuel said a third student, a 17-year-old boy, was charged this month with second-degree sexual assault on one of the two 13-year-olds linked to the football players’ cases.
Emanuel said the assault occurred last fall. He had no information about the 17-year-old’s arraignment or any bail.
At least one more arrest involving the same accusers is likely in the case, he said.
The accusers and suspects knew one another, according to Emanuel, who described what happened as “voluntary encounters” at private residences. But he said sexual encounters between a 13-year-old and anyone more than three years older are illegal under state law.
At least one of the accusers in Torrington, nearly 30 miles west of the capital, Hartford, has been taunted on social media by dozens of upset classmates, the newspaper reported. Students have called the girl a “whore” and bashed her for “snitching” and “ruining” the players’ lives.
State prosecutor Terri Sonnemann declined to comment on the sexual assault cases and on whether authorities are investigating the online taunts.
Gonzalez’s lawyer, J. Patten Brown III, said he hasn’t seen the state’s evidence yet, but has been told the charges allege consensual, but statutorily illegal, sex. He said Gonzalez is not making any admissions about having relations with the girl and intends to fight the charges.
“Oftentimes people are arrested, and when all the facts come out, they’re different than what people assumed,” Brown said.
A message was left Wednesday for Toribio’s attorney, Charles Brower.
In the Ohio case, Steubenville High School football players Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond were sentenced Sunday to at least a year in juvenile jail after being found guilty of using their hands to rape a drunken 16-year-old girl. The case bitterly divided the city and led to accusations of a cover-up to protect the athletes.
On Tuesday, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the teen girl is being victimized by threats on Twitter and he demanded an end to such postings.
In Torrington, Gonzalez and Toribio have been suspended from school, said Ken Traub, chairman of the local Board of Education.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, school Superintendent Cheryl Kloczko read a brief statement pledging to abide by laws protecting student confidentiality. She declined to comment further.
Torrington police said little about the accusations in news releases, except that Gonzalez and Toribio were arrested in connection with alleged sexual encounters with 13-year-old girls.
Toribio has posted $100,000 bail for the two sexual assault cases.
Gonzalez is being detained on $65,000 bail at the New Haven Correctional Center. He also has pleaded not guilty in a robbery case from last year that remains pending.