The girl knew one of her alleged attackers, police say
A 15-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by multiple assailants — and up to 40 people watched the attack as it streamed on Facebook Live, Chicago police allege.
According to authorities, the girl vanished on Sunday after being dropped off at her house. Hours later, her family found a devastating clue to her disappearance: a Facebook Live video in which the high school freshman was allegedly sexually assaulted by several men.
After seeing the video, the girl’s family alerted police, who began an extensive search for the girl. She was found crying on a neighbor’s porch on Tuesday. She was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and then released to her mother. (PEOPLE is not identifying the alleged victim or her family.)
Chicago Police confirm to PEOPLE that they believe the girl knew at least one of her “five or six” alleged attackers. Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi says that the investigation is progressing, but no formal suspects have yet been announced.
While police continue to search for answers, the girl’s friends and family are grappling with the aftermath. “It hurts me to my core because I was one of the last people to see her [before the alleged attack],” a relative tells the Chicago Tribune . “I want to make sure this never happens to anybody else’s kids, and if that starts with taking down this one group, I’ll make that my life’s mission.”
It’s unclear who streamed the video onto Facebook, but it has since been removed. Although authorities acknowledge that the video had about 40 people watching it at one point, it’s unclear who, exactly, was viewing. “We are not releasing that information at this time,” a police spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
This is not the first time that Chicago has been rocked by a disturbing social media video. In January, four people were arrested for the alleged torture of a bound and gagged special-needs man. That attack was also streamed live on Facebook.
For authorities, these attacks highlight a problem of the way that people interact on social media.
“What’s even more disturbing, more than the fact that they did this, there were so many people that saw this and they didn’t pick up the phone and dial 911,” police Superintendent Eddie Johnson tells WGN-TV. “That’s just not right.”