‘Where’s the outrage?’: Family of 11-year-old Bemidji girl who was allegedly gang raped wants answers, action

Family of 11-year-old Bemidji girl who was allegedly gang raped wants answers, action

Family of 11-year-old Bemidji girl allegedly gang raped wants answers, action

The extended family of an 11-year-old Bemidji girl, heartbroken, banded together on Wednesday to stand behind the young girl who told police she was assaulted after being led into danger by someone she knew.

The family said the case has reaffirmed what they’ve always known: There’s systemic inaction when it comes to the abuse of Indigenous women and girls, and they want the community to pay attention.

“It’s crushing as a mother, as an aunt, as a female,” reacted Missie Camacho, sitting down with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS alongside three of her nieces, Aricela Rueda, and Maria and Janeen Paquette. “It’s something you never want your child to go through, and it’s a worst nightmare because it’s happening in our neighborhood, it’s happening to our own family.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” Rueda added.

“There’s so many unanswered questions right now,” Janeen Paquette said. “Like, Where do we go from here? How do we make our cousin feel like herself again?”

According to the criminal complaint, the 11-year-old was directed to get into a car with strange men by a woman she was staying with, and the men put a bag over her head and brought her to a home where they allegedly tied her up, and a man — later identified as 22-year-old Oscar Ernesto Luna — proceeded to sexually assault and rape her. The 11-year-old also told police, according to the complaint, that four other men were around and at least some of them also assaulted her.

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“To know you have a child that’s hurt. Her innocence is gone, and there’s nothing you can do,” Camacho said through tears.

The child’s family raised concerns with how information was released. Bemidji Police, on Facebook, announced officers arrested Luna five days after the incident. Another week went by before police revealed, again on Facebook, that they found 12 other people in the home at the time, and U.S. Border Patrol took 11 of them into custody.

They were “not immediately identified as suspects,” but police said they are still investigating any possible involvement the men may have had. Luna is the only person charged as of this report.

“Why were they here in the first place? How did they get here?” Rueda asked. “Why is there no press conference? Why isn’t Chief Mastin speaking out about this? It don’t make sense.”

“We didn’t hear none of that. We didn’t get none of them answers,” Camacho added. “If this was anybody else’s child, they would be asking for the same answers.”

As for the woman who allegedly directed the child to get into the car, the family members all said, “We don’t know who she is.”

“It makes me feel like just like I want to throw up almost, you know, it’s ridiculous,” Maria Paquette reacted.

The family said they want to see more charges brought against other adults who were present, and they want answers about how and why this happened.

“It’s like, where’s the outrage? Why is nobody mad?” Rueda said, continuing to voice the questions that have been going through her head for more than two weeks.

“All I want to say is, at the end of everything, do red lives really matter?” said Janeen Paquette.

“Well, that Native child is ours now. And we’re not gonna be quiet,” Camacho said in conclusion.

Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin did not provide an update in the case as of Wednesday evening. Police are investigating all leads and tips, Mastin told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, calling it a “very serious crime” that many Bemidji officers “take personally as parents.”

“Justice takes time,” Chief Mastin said. “And we don’t want to make mistakes. We have to vet everything properly.”