Six teenage girls who allegedly beat up a neighborhood woman and posted a clip of the apparently unprovoked assault on Facebook were being held on $50,000 bond each and face charges as adults in a crime that has shaken a small Pennsylvania city.
At a news conference Friday in Chester, about 15 miles from Philadelphia, Delaware County Dist. Atty. Jack Whelan said he never hesitated to charge all the girls as adults. One of them is 19; the others range in age from 15 to 17.
"This is a very disturbing crime for obvious reasons. It appeared to be unprovoked, and we, after viewing the video and consulting with the Chester Police Department, without hesitation made the determination these teenagers should be charged as adults," Whelan said after all six were in custody.
They face felony burglary and aggravated assault charges.
The video, captured on one of the alleged perpetrator's cellphones, lasts less than 90 seconds. It shows some of the teenagers walking down a dark sidewalk toward a woman sitting on her front steps. Between giggles, one voice is heard using an expletive-filled phrase to announce she wants to beat someone up. Another voice says excitedly: "Talk to her first, talk to her first, talk to her first!"
The woman shrieks as one teenager with a thick pony-tail walks up to her and, without warning, begins punching her. The others quickly join in the beating and follow the woman as she flees into her house. They take turns punching her inside the home, the sounds of the victim's screams mixed with cackles of laughter and complaints from some of the girls about the condition of the home.
"This stink!" one yells as the girls take turns pummeling the woman, who appears to have fallen back onto a sofa or a bed. "Go go go go go go go!" one says breathlessly as the gang then flees the house and pours onto the sidewalk. Police have described the victim as a 48-year-old "mentally challenged" woman and say she suffered cuts and bruises.
Police were alerted to the assault, which they believe took place on Sept. 25, after someone who saw the video reported it.
WPVI, the local ABC affiliate, quoted one girl's lawyer as saying his 16-year-old client was remorseful but never threw a punch herself. "She understands it is a bad reflection on her and a bad reflection on her family," the lawyer, Enrique Latoison, said. "I will tell you my client never made a physical contact with the victim in the case," he added.
WPVI also spoke with two children of the victim, whom they identified as Della D'Angelo. Her daughter, Nicole, and son, Domenic, say their mother is now in a safe place. "I've seen bits and pieces," Domenic said of the video. "It breaks my heart. I can't even watch the video, but they do it for fun? It's sad. It's sick."
The Daily Freeman newspaper reported that several of the defendants' relatives were in court for a brief proceeding over the weekend. Some of the relatives wept; others were angry the girls had been arrested.
One woman said they were just “acting like kids,” according to the report. “It’s not like they killed somebody,” she said.