I’ll remember the infamous 2011 Texas gang rape of an 11-year-old girl not so much by the horrifying details, but by how appallingly The New York Times blamed the victim: a child. In what quickly became known as The New York Times Blows It On Gang Rape Coverage, the accounts of that horrendous crime were rooted in the little girl’s apparel, makeup, and lack of parenting –textbook victim blaming. Not in contemplation of the 20 men and boys who were accused of sexually assaulting and brutalizing a child (eight of which have pleaded guilty).
But in a new concerning twist in an otherwise deplorable case, one of those accused 20 attackers has gone missing. And straight from the courthouse.
The Houston Chronicle reports that the victim, now 13 years old, has been going by the name “Regina” to protect her identity. The young girl bravely took to the stand and faced one of her attackers for the first time:
Regina, dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt with a gold cross around her neck, smiled nervously and softly answered questions about several sexual encounters that occurred over a five-month period in 2010. But her demeanor changed, a tear sliding down one cheek, when the prosecutor showed a graphic video of her.
That was one of the cellphone videos of the alleged assaults that went viral around the Cleveland school district that triggered the investigation. In it, a young man appears to be having anal sex with her.
She identified [Eric Bernard McGowen] as the voice laughing in the background, shouting “beat that ho!”
Shortly after the testimony and a recess, McGowen’s attorney reportedly returned to find his client gone. A search ensued through the courthouse and adjacent grounds but nothing. The judged ordered the trial to continue and a warrant has been issued for McGowen’s arrest. His bail also been upped to $250,000 as, I can only imagine, the worries of Texas parents skyrockets.