Two college students suspected of gang-raping a woman on a Florida beach just steps away from crowds of spring break revelers have been charged with sexual battery and suspended from their university, officials said.
The attack involved three assailants and occurred sometime between March 10 and 12 “in broad daylight,” Bay County, Fla., Sheriff Frank McKeithen said at a news conference last week. “Within 10 feet of where this happened, there’s hundreds, hundreds of people standing there, watching, looking, seeing, hearing what’s going on.”
A third person is still being sought in the Panama City attack, which the Sheriff’s Office said came to light only after police in Troy, Ala., came across a cellphone video taken by a bystander.
Delonte Martistee, 22, of Bainbridge, Ga., and Ryan Austin Calhoun, 23, of Mobile, Ala., students at Troy University in Alabama, were arrested last week and charged with sexual battery by multiple perpetrators, the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
The victim was 19 years old and incapacitated during the attack, sheriff’s spokeswoman Ruth Corley told the Los Angeles Times. “Investigators believe she was drugged,” she said. “Possibly Molly or roofies.”
As of Sunday night, sheriff’s officials said that Martistee is jailed in Bay County in lieu of $50,000 bail, and that Calhoun has posted bond.
Troy has suspended the two students, the university announced Sunday, adding that one of them was a student-athlete and has been removed from the track team. The Troy Athletics website shows that Martistee did jumps for the team.
McKeithen said the attack was “probably one of the most disgusting, repulsive, sickening things I’ve seen this year on Panama City Beach, and I’ve seen a lot of them.”
He also called for change in the Florida Panhandle county, which is popular with spring break tourists, and emphasized that the attack was not an isolated incident. “There’s a number of videos we’ve recovered with things similar to this, and I can only imagine how many we haven’t recovered,” he said.
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