Why Would Five Teens Gang-Rape a Friend? Check Facebook | Feature | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Why Would Five Teens Gang-Rape a Friend? Check Facebook

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A video showed two blond girls delivering several punches to Jessica's face until her eyes swelled shut. "They are observed stating 'suck his dick, bitch,' several times," states the police synopsis of the clip, which Broward County Circuit Court has now sealed. "The victim stated she would comply if they stopped hitting her. The defendants are observed forcibly taking off the victim's clothes while telling her she has to 'fuck' him. The victim eventually told them she will do what they wanted if they stopped battering her."

That same day, police obtained a search warrant and rummaged through the yellow house. In the backyard, they found Jessica's white metal loop earrings in the grass and her belly ring on a patio chair. They also came upon a stolen gold Jaguar, stripped of parts, and a black backpack that contained three handguns, ammunition, and "miscellaneous drug paraphernalia."

The girls confessed to police they had savaged Jessica but denied they had removed her clothing or forced her to have sex. The boys, arrested on November 3, also claimed rape didn't occur that night. They say Jessica's story doesn't add up.

At 8 a.m. on a Friday, Jayvon Woolfork quivered inside his orange tunic at Broward County Main Jail. He was near tears, shaking, grabbing at his dreadlocks as though those tangles held some clue that would lead to his freedom. But Woolfork wasn't going anywhere, and he knew it.

"I can't even believe this is happening right now. People have always said I'm full of love. I'm happy. I'm goofy," whispered the 19-year-old, who departed his hometown near Naples to live with his sister in Hollywood after their mother's death last January. He never graduated high school but said he came to South Florida wanting to make something of himself. He had thought about opening a restaurant, maybe Bahamian. He said he knew a guy "from the islands" who could help. But now? "My face is destroyed. People who don't even know me will think I'm a monster."

Woolfork says he didn't know anyone when he moved to Hollywood and was lonely and bored when he met a tall boy named Lanel Singleton at a 7-Eleven on North Federal Highway.

Singleton knew what it was like to move to South Florida not knowing anyone. He had come to Hollywood from Marietta, Georgia, several years earlier. Soon after Singleton's arrival, he started getting in trouble. Around the same time he met Woolfork, police busted him for marijuana possession.

After that arrest, there were terrible fights with his mother, Nan Ross. She says she split from Singleton's dad following a bout of domestic violence. "My separation and divorce with his father was nasty," she explains. "And I don't know if it was resentment or if Lanel was mad or what. I've never gotten a straight answer out of him... He's just so young and naive and doesn't see consequences."

Woolfork's house didn't have any parents around, and soon Singleton and Dwight Henry were coming over to play Grand Theft Auto, smoke weed, and drink. Friends say Singleton eventually moved in with Woolfork.

Then on the night of November 1, Woolfork says, Singleton invited over "some females" from school to hang with them and Henry (who declined a jailhouse interview). Woolfork didn't know the girls that well but says he thought they were "cool, chill kids."

Jessica's behavior, however, gave him pause. "She was saying she needed some place to stay," Woolfork claims, fidgeting inside his chair. "She said she got kicked out by her peoples and didn't have nowhere to go. She was trying to say she wanted to stay with me, and I said, 'I'm not on that. You're too young.' She was first telling me she was 17, then 18, then that she just turned 18 that day and needed a place to stay."

When asked whether he sexually assaulted Jessica, Woolfork said, "Man, all of this is crazy. This is crazy, man." Asked again, he lowered his head and yelled, "No, I didn't rape anybody!"

Lanel Singleton, also speaking from a jail cell, declined to comment on any specifics of what happened that night beyond saying, "I didn't do anything. When it was happening, I knew sort of that what was happening was wrong, but I didn't do anything. It's not illegal to just be there."

He alleged Jessica is very sexual — "she has her ways" — and is lying.

"But I should never have stayed there that night," he says. "I wish to anything that I hadn't."

In the quiet following the girl's departure, Singleton says he looked at his friends. Morning was still hours away. The cloud of inebriation had lifted. "This is going to come back at us," Singleton told them. They disagreed.

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Terrence McCoy