An Ohio teenager accused of live-streaming the rape of her 17-year-old friend has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges stemming from the alleged incident in February.
Marina Lonina, 18, a student at New Albany High School, outside Columbus, was attempting to record the assault as evidence, her attorney, Sam Shamansky, said during a court appearance Friday.
“She’s in the habit of filming everything with this app called Periscope,” Shamansky acknowledged, according to ABC affiliate WSYX. “She does everything possible to contain the situation even to the point of asking while it’s being filmed to these Periscope followers, ‘What should I do now? What should I do now?'”
A judge set Lonina’s bond at $125,000.
Her co-defendant, Raymond Gates, 29, also pleaded not guilty and his bond was set at $300,000, according to CBS News.
The pair has been charged with rape, kidnapping, sexual battery and pandering sexually oriented matter involving a minor, according to NBC affiliate WCMH-TV. If convicted, each faces up to 40 years in prison.
Lonina also was charged with the illegal use of a minor in a nudity-oriented material or performance, the Associated Press reported.
Lonina and the victim — friends who attended the same high school — met Gates at a mall while they were shopping, Shamansky said. He bought them a bottle of vodka and encouraged them to meet the next day, which the victim wanted to do, he said.
“My client is along for the ride, so to speak,” Shamansky added, according to WSYX.
They were drinking at Gates’s home in Columbus on Feb. 27 when he began to sexually assault the 17-year-old and Lonina began live-streaming the violence using Periscope, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said, according to NBC affiliate WCMH.
A police report cited by WCMH accused Gates of holding the victim down using the weight of his body while assaulting her.
The report also says teenager can be heard screaming, “No, it hurts so much,” “Please stop” and “Please, no” multiple times.
On Friday, O’Brien disputed the idea that Lonina was acting in the best interest of the victim when she began filming the assault, according to WCMH. Initially, he said, she thought her actions would prevent the assault. But, he added: “She got caught up in the ‘likes.’ ”
“I have never seen a case such as this where you would actually live-stream a sexual assault,” he said. “Based on the video that I saw it didn’t appear for the most part of it that she was attempting to help the victim.”
A night earlier, O’Brien noted, Lonina had taken an illicit photo of the girl.
O’Brien said authorities became aware of the incident when a friend of the victim saw the images and alerted police.
Shamansky told the courtroom that his client is an ordinary teenager who was taken advantage of by a predatory adult.
“She’s a good kid,” Shamansky said, according to WSYX. “She’s a senior in high school. Comes from a fine family and is the furthest thing from a rapist. … The rapist was in court and it was not my client.”
On its website, Periscope — a Twitter-owned app for smartphones that uses video for streaming — is described as “the closest thing to teleportation.”
“A picture may be worth a thousand words, but live video can take you someplace and show you around,” the description says.
A Periscope spokesman told The Washington Post by email that the company does not comment on individual accounts due to privacy concerns. The message included the following policy, which the company official said was relevant to the case.
“Periscope is intended to be open and safe,” the policy says. “To maintain a healthy platform, explicit graphic content is not allowed. Explicit graphic content includes, but is not limited to, depictions of child abuse, animal abuse, or bodily harm. Periscope is not for content that is intended to incite violence, or includes a direct and specific threat of violence to others.”