On February 27, 2016, a 17 year-old girl was assaulted and raped by 29 year-old Raymond Gates in Ohio. Although the incident itself is extremely distressing, the most horrific part was that the girl’s best friend, Marina Lonina, streamed the whole event on Periscope, a live streaming app on Twitter.
After the video went viral, Lonina and Gates were both indicted for counts of kidnapping, rape, sexual battery, and pandering sexually-oriented matter involving a minor. Gates plead not guilty as did Lonina to all of the charges. Lonina claimed that she filmed the assault in order to gather evidence.
That excuse would be more feasible to some if at any point during the ten-minute long video, Lonina made an effort to aid her friend. The prosecutor for the case, Ron O’Brien, believed Lonina was “taken up with all the 'likes' that her live stream was getting and therefore continued to do it, and did nothing to aid the victim.”
Even after the video concluded, Lonina never made a 911 call to report the incident, which seems odd because of her previous claim that she recorded the rape for evidence. Actually, a viewer of Periscope called authorities after watching the stream.
The two teenagers first met Gates at a mall, where he bought the girls a bottle of vodka and invited them over to his place the next day. When they arrived a day later, he pinned down Lonina’s friend and began to force sexual contact.
Lonina’s behavior demonstrates the common bystander effect, wherein a witness to a crime does not act to intervene in a dire situation. This psychological phenomenon is nothing new; however, her use of technology to share the attack and her withdrawn presence is very new. Prosecutor O’brien cannot recall experiencing anything like this before and fears “technology has moved us into an area that is sometimes beyond belief.”
Video of Lonina in court below.
(Photos: Franklin County Sheriff's Office via AP)