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Mom upset family jailed, but not man girl accused

6-8-2007 Indiana:

Relatives doused alleged attacker of 9-year-old with gasoline, police say.

SOUTH BEND -- A local woman says she was resting about 5 p.m. Tuesday when her 9-year-old daughter came home, crawling into bed with her and saying that she'd just been sexually abused by a family friend -- the same one who'd just dropped her off.

The mother, whom The Tribune is not naming to avoid identifying her daughter, says she took the girl to Memorial Hospital within an hour to have her checked for signs of molestation.

While they were at the hospital, she says, four family members and a friend must have gone to the home of the man who allegedly abused the girl. According to police reports, they forced their way into the house in the 700 block of South Walnut Street and doused him with gasoline.

The mother says she had no idea what they were up to, but she adds, "Yeah, my family was wrong, I can admit to that. ... What about my daughter? It's all about my daughter."

The mother says she and her daughter are upset the man is still free and their family is in jail.

Catherine Wilson, spokeswoman for the St. Joseph County prosecutor's office, said she expects charges to be filed today against the five who went after the man.

As for any possible charges against the man accused of raping the girl, Wilson said that case was still under investigation Thursday by the Family Violence and Special Victims Unit.

The Tribune is not naming the man or those accused of attacking the man, to protect the identity of the girl and because they have not been charged with a crime.

No contact information could be found Thursday for the man who allegedly abused the girl.

"My daughter was a hero because she was willing to talk about it," says the mother, who'd taught the girl, the youngest of her 13 children, most of whom have grown and left the home, about good touch and bad touch.

But now her husband is in jail, she says, and so is her schizophrenic son and her pregnant daughter, along with a nephew and family friend.

For a year, the mother says, she has known the man who the girl says abused her. He and the mom have sung together in a choir. He and his girlfriend would watch the girl and the mom's grandchildren at times. So, the mom says, she willingly let the couple take her daughter Monday for a night, as the girlfriend wanted to take the girl swimming.

The girl was watching TV on the couch in the couple's house Tuesday afternoon when the alleged abuse happened, the mother says.

Later, at 7:57 p.m., police say they received a 911 call from the house on Walnut. The man told police he had slammed the door on the five people who'd come to see him. The report states they broke the door down and one person shouted, "What did you do to my niece?"

After they doused gasoline on him and his house, he forced the people outside and called police, police reported. Police found the alleged assailants outside and Tasered two of them.

The Family Violence and Special Victims Unit is investigating the five suspects' actions along with the alleged abuse, says Gary Horvath, a division chief with the South Bend Police Department. ..more.. by Staff writer Joseph Dits

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