Five juveniles, ages 12 to 16, have each pleaded guilty to reduced charges in federal court for crimes that occurred in 2016 in New York City and Queens, the New York Times reports.
The five teens have all pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, robbery and obstructing government administration, according to the Times. Each of the five pleaded guilty to reduced charges, thus avoiding a trial. The two older boys who were not tried in juvenile court have been sentenced to prison terms. The teens who have admitted their guilt each face a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
The four teens were originally charged in relation to four separate sexual attacks they committed against the girls who were younger than 16 in 2016. In all cases, one of the girls had agreed to engage in sexually explicit conduct. The crimes were witnessed by the father of one of the girls.
Keenan Andrews, the boys’ attorney, acknowledged that the crimes were “socially unacceptable,” the Times reports.
Andrews said that a support group for the boys had been created in the weeks following the verdict. “There’s healing that needs to happen and you need to support these young people in those steps,” Andrews said.
One of the boys in the case will be released immediately after he has served his prison term, according to The New York Times. His two co-defendants will be released within three years of their prison terms.
“One thing that I can’t do is just write off the fact that they were 16-year-old boys,” Andrews told the paper. “They thought that in America, sex with 12-year-old girls was OK. They violated their own right to not hurt a child.”
Last year, three of the men involved in the assaults were charged with kidnapping, beating and raping the 10-year-old stepdaughter of Damion A. Davis in Brooklyn. After the charges were announced, Davis called the children in the case “very innocent.” His latest criminal case is set to start next month.