This past February, Marina Lonina, 18, allegedly watched as another teenager was raped by Raymond Gates, 29, a man that they had met the previous day while hanging out at the mall. Rather than trying to stop the attack or call for help, police say Ohio teenager pulled out her phone, launched the Periscope application, and began to livestream the entire ordeal.
According to police, it wasn’t until another of Lonina’s friends got a notification of her livestream and began to watch what was happening that the authorities were notified of the rape. Both Lonina and Gates were soon arrested by police and charged with the rape, sexual battery, and kidnapping of a minor. On Friday, they both pled not guilty in a Franklin County, Ohio, court.
“You don’t want to lose track of the fact that she’s a high school student and she and her friend were clearly taken advantage of,” Lonina’s attorney Sam Shamansky argued in court. “She was swept up by the gravity of the situation and as she immediately told the police, she was filming in order to preserve, not to embarrass or to shame or to titillate anybody.”
Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien echoed Shamansky’s assertion that Lonina aired the rape in an attempt to draw attention what was happening, but things took a dark turn when Lonina “got caught up in the likes.”
When a person begins to stream something using Periscope, all of their followers are immediately notified about the new broadcast and encouraged to tune in. While viewing the livestream, people can then “like” what they see by hitting a button. Unlike Facebook, which recently rolled out a broader range of reactions conveying different emotions, Periscope users are limited to liking a stream with hearts.
Lonina’s lawyer told The New York Times that his client recorded the rape in an attempt to collect video evidence of what happened and that she did, in fact, try to stop Gates. When pressed about what specifically Lonina tried to do Shamansky did not provide a clear answer, but said that his client was also a victim of Gates.
Both Lonina and Gates face at least four decades in prison if convicted. While Shamansky said that his client was also a victim of Gates, O’Brien insisted Lonina’s refusal to call the police and her supposed reluctance to help her friend tell a different story. “For the most part,” O’Brien described. “[Lonina] is just streaming it on the Periscope app and giggling and laughing.”
This post has been updated to clarified charges against Lonina and Gates and the location of the alleged rape.
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