This particular case didn’t happen in Michigan, but because it is a classic example of the ways in which technology can complicate cases in the modern era, we have decided to share it with you.
Marina Lonina, a high school student from Ohio, is accused of livestreaming her 17-year-old friend’s rape on Periscope. Periscope is a social media platform that allows users to “go live” anywhere at any time using their mobile device. It wasn’t until another one of her friends noticed what was going on, that the incident was reported to authorities. The prosecutor has stated that Lonina “got caught up in the likes” she was getting on the app, but her attorney denies that this is the case.
According to Lonina’s criminal defense attorney, she has a habit of recording everything with the Periscope app. In this particular case, he says she was simply attempting to capture the assault for the purposes of evidence. He goes on to explain that she wasn’t happy about the situation and at one point is recorded asking her viewers, “What should I do now? What should I do now?”
Police reports reveal that Lonina, her friend, and 29-year-old Raymond Gates, were all hanging out together that night drinking alcohol. Gates is alleged to have forced the 17-year-old to have sex with him at some point during the evening and Lonina then recorded the incident with her phone.
Did hundreds of thousand of viewers watch a girl get raped?
The prosecution claims that while Lonina may have believed that livestreaming the rape would stop it in the beginning, she ultimately got caught up in the moment, and in the viewer responses. As a result, she simply allowed it to happen. According to the prosecutor, anyone listening to the video recording can hear that she spends most of the time during the assault simply sitting there laughing and giggling.
Both Lonina and Gates are charged with various sex assault crimes including rape, kidnapping, sexual battery and pandering sexual matter involving a minor. These are very serious felony charges and if convicted, could result in both of them spending up to 40 years behind bars. Both parties have already appeared in court and have pled not guilty to the charges.
According to Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, the reasons why Lonina chose to livestream the rape of her friend is unknown. He did however point out that alcohol had most likely factored in the decision.
“People need to know and understand that the use of a smartphone to video events can constitute serious felony crimes,” O’Brien said. “They should think twice before they use their smartphones to either photograph or video anything that’s of a sexual nature.”