Youths Charged With Sexual Assault of 8-Year-Old Girl
Ariz. victim disowned by her Liberian family
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2009 1:36 PM CDT
Steven Tuopeh, 14, one of four boys arrested in the sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl in Phoenix.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Four boys aged 9 to 14 are being held in connection with the sexual assault of an 8-year-old girl in Phoenix, the Arizona Republic reports. All of the children are Liberian refugees. Police say the boys lured the girl into a shed with chewing gum and “took turns” assaulting her. The girl is in state custody after her family disowned her. "The parents felt they had been shamed or embarrassed by their child," a police sergeant told KTAR-AM.

A police spokesman called the attack “one of the worst crimes we have come across in Phoenix in quite some time.” All four boys have been charged with sexual assault, and prosecutors hope to try the 14-year-old as an adult. Three of the suspects may also be charged with kidnapping. Police say the victim knew her attackers, but it is unclear how long they have lived in the apartment complex where the crime occurred or when they left Liberia.