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July 31, 2013

3 teens charged with sexually assaulting girl, sharing video

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Three teenagers are facing sexual battery and child pornography charges after authorities say they assaulted an underage girl who was passed out in a hotel room, and then shared video of the incident with their friends.

Two of the suspects -- Peter Joseph Tanoos II and Tucker Lee Ray, both age 18 -- were arrested Tuesday afternoon. Indiana State Police said the third suspect, 19-year-old Christopher Ivan Lucio Hayden, surrendered Wednesday.

The details of the case in this western Indiana city bear strong similarities to this year’s highly publicized trial in Steubenville, Ohio, in which two teens were convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl after an alcohol-fueled party. Images and video of the assault were shared across social media; those images drew outrage from across the globe and helped prosecutors make their case against the defendants.

The three Indiana teens face charges in connection with a July 2 incident, in which a 14-year-old girl told police she got drunk at a private party near downtown Terre Haute. Detectives said the girl told them that friends helped her leave the party and took her to a hotel.

According to police, the girl was sexually assaulted by Tanoos and Ray as she lay unconscious in the hotel room. Pornographic images of the assault were allegedly recorded by Hayden, and were then published multiple times around the community, police said.

Tanoos has been arrested on charges of child exploitation and sexual battery. Ray has been arrested on charges of sexual deviate conduct, child exploitation and sexual battery.

Hayden faces charges of child exploitation and possession of child pornography.

Vigo County prosecutor Terry Modesitt recused himself from the case due to a family connection with Ray. Special prosecutor Lee Reberger of neighboring Clay County has been appointed to handle the case.

Details for this story were provided by The Tribune Star in Terre Haute, Ind.

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