Silver Spring man gets eight years in prison for role in rape -- Gazette.Net



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Gang members assaulted woman, recorded incident on cellphone

by St. John Barned-Smith

Staff Writer

A Silver Spring man was sentenced to eight years in prison Tuesday for his role in the gang rape of a woman in Olney last year, which gang members recorded on a cellphone.

Elmer Vasquez, 21, of Lockwood Drive was one of our men charged with the Oct. 4 assault.

“At what point did you think that was OK?” Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge David A. Boynton asked Vasquez before handing down his sentence.

“I wasn’t thinking,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez had pleaded guilty to a sex offense charge in May.

Vasquez, who was known as “Elmo,” was part of the Little R gang, along with Rogelio Sierra-Duran (“Moreno”), Andres Cortez (“Moro”) and Mohammed Ahmed (“Indio”), police said.

All four have been charged.

Myron Brown, Vasquez’s attorney, said Vasquez was associated with the gang, but not a member.

“Because of who he associated with, he made some poor decisions,” Brown said, calling the charges against Vasquez an “anomaly.”

He also said Vasquez has bone cancer and asked the judge for leniency so his client can fight the disease.

“We want him home,” Vasquez’s sister Blanca Vasquez told Boynton, weeping. “He needs his treatment.”

Brown said Vasquez was “remorseful.” After the hearing, Brown called the sentence “harsh,” and said he would talk with Vasquez about asking for reconsideration by a three-judge panel.

Sentencing guidelines recommended a sentence of up to two years, but prosecutors asked for the maximum possible penalty of 10 because of the nature of the assault.

“I want to apologize to the court and to my family,” Vasquez said. “It wasn’t forced or planned. ... It just got out of control.”

Police said they learned about the assault while investigating a separate alleged gang rape by Little R members. Police did not find the video they were looking for related to that attack, but instead discovered videos of the sexual assault for which Vasquez was sentenced Tuesday, arresting documents and court records show.

In a video played in court, the victim’s speech was slurred, her eyes drooping. And even as she resisted, three men flashed gang signs and sexually assaulted her while another man filmed it on his cellphone. The victim repeatedly told the men, “That’s not cool” and “No” several times after the men in the video tried to assault her.

According to court records, one of the men accused in the assault told police that after the clips were recorded, the men had sex with her.

The woman was not a minor, according to Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Mays. She did not appear in court. The Gazette is not identifying her because she is a victim of a sex crime.

“The assault was gang related, but there is no indication from the video that it was part of a gang initiation,” Mays said.

Ahmed, 21, has pleaded guilty to his involvement in the assault. Sierra-Duran, 19, of Silver Spring is scheduled to plead guilty on Thursday. Cortez, 21, who is from Hagerstown, faces trial in August.

Prosecutors said the victim did not immediately report the incident because she was so incapacitated that she did not remember it.

“She was really at their mercy,” Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Beth Ayres told Boynton, adding that the fact that she was incapacitated by alcohol did not take away from the severity of the crime.

“It just shows that she was an easy target, and they took advantage of her,” she said.

Vasquez also pleaded guilty and was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison, with the time suspended, in an unrelated case in which he punched a woman who hit him with a broomstick as he was leaving a party in September.

sjbsmith@gazette.net