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Ohio teen live-streams friend’s sexual assault on Periscope, gets indicted

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An 18-year-old in Ohio has been indicted for using Twitter’s video-streaming service Periscope to broadcast the rape of her 17-year-old friend. Marina Lonina did nothing to assist the minor as the assault took place, but instead took the affirmative step of live-streaming the incident live to her followers. Lonina and the assailant, 29-year-old Raymond B. Gates, have each been charged with two counts of rape, three counts of pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, and one count each of kidnapping and sexual battery.

The rape was reported by one of Lonina’s friends, who was on the receiving end of the Periscope stream in an entirely different state, and who reported the attack to authorities. Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says that it’s unclear how many people were able to see the video. He further noted that this was the first time in Franklin County, Ohio, in which any such crime has been live-streamed.

At the time of the incident, O’Brien says that Gates, Lonina, and the victim were socializing over drinks, whereupon Gates forced himself upon the 17-year-old. Because there was alcohol involved in the situation, the prosecutor noted that the victim’s ability “to resist or consent was substantially impaired.”

O’Brien also attributes the Periscope live-stream to Lonina’s inebriation. In a statement, he concluded that “The alcohol accounts for the stupidity of what was done with the live-streaming.”

If Gates and Lonina are convicted on all counts, they could face over 40 years in prison. Lonina faces an additional charge of “illegal use of minor in nudity oriented material or performance,” as she allegedly took nude photographs of the victim the evening before the assault took place.

Periscope has landed some individuals in hot water before — back in February, a woman effectively handed herself a six-month license suspension and 150 hours of community service when she livestreamed herself driving drunk. 

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