Liberian teen accused of raping girl

By JANE PRIMERANO   |   Aug. 2, 2009 at 8:29 PM

PHOENIX, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- A Liberian teen will be tried as an adult in Phoenix on charges of raping an 8-year-old girl, the Maricopa County attorney said Sunday.

The grand jury handed up a seven-count indictment late Friday against Steven Tuopeh, 14, for allegedly sexually assaulting the girl at a west Phoenix apartment complex. He is charged with four counts of sexual conduct with a minor, attempted sexual conduct with a minor, kidnapping and a sexual-assault charge that is possible for a trial jury to convert to sexual conduct with a minor.

"This young man must be held accountable for his alleged crimes, which have deeply affected not only his young victim, but also our community and nation," County Attorney Andrew Thomas said. "We will seek appropriate charges against all persons involved in this incident."

Tuopeh was arrested July 21 with three other boys, Liberian refugees from the same community. Phoenix police investigators filed a probable-cause statement saying the victim was lured to a storage shed at the apartment complex July 16, where the boys allegedly took turns sexually assaulting her.

Tuopeh faces more than 57 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

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