An 18-year-old Ohio woman has been accused of broadcasting live video of her friend being sexually assaulted using the Twitter app Periscope. The New York Times reports that the woman, Marina Lonina, has been charged with kidnapping, rape, sexual battery, and pandering sexual matter involving a minor. Those are the same charges leveled against the alleged attacker, 29-year-old Raymond Gates. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The charges stem from an incident on February 27th at a residence in Columbus, according to the Times. Prosecutors say Gates pinned down a 17-year-old woman, who was a high school friend of Lonina's, and began to rape her. At that point Lonina opened Periscope and began to broadcast the attack, prosecutors say. The broadcast was spotted by one of the victim's friends, who then contacted the authorities, according to the Times.
The defendants could be sentenced to more than 40 years in prison
In a disturbing twist to an already grim story, the prosecutor said that Lonina believed broadcasting the attack could help stop it — but was hypnotized by the encouragement she got from viewers of the broadcast. "She got caught up in the likes," said Ron O'Brien, the Franklin County prosecutor, according to the Times.
Lonina's attorney has argued that she filmed the assault to provide evidence against the attacker. But the prosecutor said that for much of the video she is "giggling and laughing." She never called 911.
If convicted, the defendants could each be sentenced to more than 40 years in prison.