Thomas J. Prohaska, Buffalo News, May 12, 2007
The alleged victim in a gang rape last year testified Friday that she didn’t report the incident at first because she didn’t want to be seen as a racist.
Three African-American 17- year-olds—Nicholas M. Smith and Dontre R. Woods, both of Lockport, and Dartaine M. Ubiles of Niagara Falls—are on trial in Niagara County Court, charged with raping the girl in Woods’ home. The girl is white.
“At first I had it look like everything was willing because I didn’t want to lose all my friends, I didn’t want it to look like I was racist,” the girl told Smith’s attorney, Anthony J. Lana. “I tried to hide the truth to keep them from getting in trouble.”
Last summer, relatives of the defendants charged that the arrests and the prosecution were racially motivated. Friday, the girl, who also had been reported as mentally challenged, complained on the stand that the publicity “made me look like an idiot. . .. They said I reported it because I was racist.”
Thursday, the girl testified Ubiles wrote her a letter after the alleged assault, urging her not to implicate him. Friday, Ubiles’ lawyer, Niagara County Public Defender David J. Farrugia, disclosed the letter the girl wrote in reply. “Why are you mad at me? I did everything you told me to. I swear to God I didn’t tell anyone. You’re a nice friend,” the letter said in part.
“I still wouldn’t admit to myself that Quez [Ubiles’ nickname] would do that to me and that he set me up, so I tried to leave him out of it as much as possible,” the girl said. “He was the one I cared about the most.”
She said that after being asked to the house by Ubiles, she had thought sex with him was likely to occur, and she willingly performed oral sex on him before he allegedly invited the other youths into the bedroom. Ubiles is charged with raping the girl with a broomstick after Smith allegedly forced himself on her.
“I was lying to myself and everybody else because I was in shock myself,” the girl told Farrugia. “I did exactly what they told me because I was scared. I didn’t want to admit to myself what happened.”
[Smith’s attorney, Anthony J.] Lana asked if calling the incident a rape was meant to stop high school gossip and “people saying mean things,” especially those who had seen a brief cell phone video of the incident taken by Antonio J. Sheppard, 17, of Lockport. He has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and will testify later in the trial.
The girl answered, “I knew that [reporting the matter] would start more trouble.”
Later, she told Farrugia, “I thought I might as well tell the truth, because I had nothing else to lose. I already had to go to school and get laughed at every single day and [have] my feelings crushed.”