Kristin Kittell | Assistant Perspectives Editor

In November 2010, in the small town of Cleveland, Texas, an 11-year-old-girl was allegedly lured into the car of a 19-year-old man, taken to an abandoned trailer and sexually assaulted by him and others.

From there, she was taken to a nearby home and equally abandoned, where the assaults continued. The 18 perpetrators have thus far been arrested range in age from 14 to 27. Did the police discover them hiding out in distant counties, fearful of consequences? Did they cover their tracks carefully? No. The proof was in cell phone photos and videos, all circulating through the child’s elementary school.

I’ve heard this attack was the child’s fault. She hung out in a notoriously bad area of town, spending her time with older teenage boys, dressing a little older than she should have. With a little makeup and a mini-skirt, an 11-year-old could easily pass as an older woman. I could see 13, maybe even 14, depending on the accuracy of her mascara application.

A new age Black Panther has made his way to the city, explaining the situation is simply a matter of race discrimination. All 18 of the suspects are African American, while the girl is Hispanic.

I suppose if they threw in a Caucasian arrest, the case would have more merit. I never would have suspected an 11-year-old Hispanic girl of plotting against the African American community this way, but Quanell X is obviously very persuasive, because he’s gained quite a following in Cleveland. The photos of the white men must have just been lost in translation.

Residents of the neighborhood where the assaults took place, “The Quarters,” as they’re referred to locally, assure the media it’s a case of parental neglect. If her parents had paid more attention and set rules and limits, this could have been avoided, they suggest.

And somewhere deep within the chaos and the rallies, the prayer groups and the baseball games, void of two players who have yet to return to school since their arrests, an 11-year-old child has been hurt beyond repair.

A piece of her is lost that she will never have back. I wonder if she feels that the small-town community of Cleveland, Texas has worked for her. TAS