COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An 18-year-old Ohio woman accused of livestreaming the rape of her 17-year-old friend with a social media app was trying to record the assault as evidence, the woman’s attorney said Friday in a defense a prosecutor flatly dismissed.
Marina Lonina pleaded not guilty Friday to multiple charges including rape, kidnapping, sexual battery and pandering sexual matter involving a minor. A judge set bond at $125,000 for Lonina, a student at New Albany High School, outside Columbus.
Her co-defendant, Raymond Gates, 29, also pleaded not guilty, with a judge setting his bond at $300,000. A public defender representing Gates did not comment about the allegations.
Lonina and her friend — who attends the same high school — met Gates at a Columbus mall for the first time the day before where he bought them a bottle of vodka and encouraged them to meet him the following day, her lawyer Sam Shamansky said.
He acknowledged his client filmed the February assault of her intoxicated friend but said she was trying to get the girl out of the house where the attack happened.
Lonina is in the habit of filming everything with Periscope, Shamansky said. The app for smartphones allows users to stream live video.
“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?'” Shamansky said.
Lonina and her friend are naturalized U.S. citizens from Russia, and Gates is also of Russian descent, said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien. The comments on the video are in Russian.
O’Brien said Lonina is seen trying to help only briefly during the 10-minute video. O’Brien said the victim was clearly screaming “stop” and “no” during the assault.
Although Lonina told police she was trying to record the assault as evidence, her behavior as people watching via Periscope “liked” the assault painted a different picture, O’Brien said.
“She got, I guess, taken up with all the ‘likes’ that her livestream was getting and therefore continued to do it, and did nothing to aid the victim,” O’Brien said.
Independent of the rape count, Lonina is also charged with livestreaming her friend nude the day before the assault, which is a felony, O’Brien said.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins