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Typically, adolescents under the age of 18 are treated as juveniles for petty crimes and misdemeanors.  For Stephen Tuopeh, a 14-year-old from Phoenix, he is facing criminal charges as an adult for his heinous crimes against an eight-year-old girl.

After luring an eight-year-old girl into a shed with bubble gum, four boys aged 14, 13, 10, and 9, brutally raped her for approximately fifteen minutes.  While the younger three boys are being charged as juveniles, Tuopeh, assumed to be the ringleader, will be tried as an adult for his offense.

The additional salt in the 8-year-old’s wounds is the fact that her father places no blame on the boys and, in fact, has “disowned” his daughter for bringing shame to the family.

“The father told the case worker and an officer in her presence that he didn’t want her back. He said ‘Take her, I don’t want her,”

This blame stems from the family’s Liberian background.  “In many parts of Africa, women often are blamed for being raped for “enticing” men or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Girls who are raped often are shunned by their families.”

Read the rest of the story here (Fox News).

Since the girl’s father has disowned her, a non-profit called Childhelp, headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, has stepped up to take care of and rehabilitate her in this disastrous time of need.

Bethany House of Northern Virginia cannot legally provide rehabilitation to girls under the age of 18, however we do offer referrals for other specialized programs in the Washington DC area.

We wrote a similar article pertaining to this a couple days ago: a strict family and religious values destroying a woman’s (or in this case, a young girl’s) human rights.  In rape cases, a woman is absolutely never to blame for what happens to her — especially an 8-year-old girl enticed by bubble gum.  Steps must be taken to ensure that the offenders are punished severely for their severe crime and intent.  This clearly was not a random act of passion; the four boys planned their actions and now must understand that rape is as brutal as murder.

Our prayers go out to this little girl and the life she must now lead.

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