How far would you go for social media likes? That’s the question that’s raised when examining the case of Marina Lonina, an 18-year-old from Columbus, OH who has been accused of filming a live-stream broadcast of her friend’s rape.
On February 26, 2016, Lonina and her 17-year-old friend were shopping at a Columbus mall where they met 29-year-old Raymond Gates. Gates agreed to buy the two teenagers a bottle of vodka the following day and asked the girls to come over to his place. The girls both agreed and proceeded to go to Gates’ home to hang out and play drinking games. Lonina, who has a habit of documenting her activities through an app called Periscope, had been filming as the victim was pinned to the bed by Gates and brutally raped.
Rather than offer her friend assistance, Lonina continued to film the assault, apparently, “caught up in the likes,” according to her attorney. Lonina claims that she believed that she was helping by documenting the rape, but the prosecution says that Lonina can be audibly heard laughing and giggling in the tape between the victim’s cries of, “No, it hurts so much,” “Please, no,” and “Please stop.” The stream was caught by one vigilant follower of Lonina who promptly reported the clip to the police.
Both Lonina and Gates were arrested. Lonina is now facing the same charges as the victim’s rapist, which includes rape, kidnapping, sexual battery, and pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor. Additonally, Lonina also faces charges related to a sexually explicit photo of the victim taken at her home the night prior to the incident. If convicted, both defendants could be facing 40 years behind bars.
“I have never seen a case such as this where you would actually live stream a sexual assault,” says Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien. “Based on the video that I saw it didn’t appear for the most part of it that she was attempting to help the victim.”
Though there have been cases of people filming rape in the past, this is the first ever documented case of someone live-streaming a rape through social media. The verdict in this case could possibly influence future cases of this nature, if it is determined that Lonina had been a frightened and confused teen, who didn’t know what to do in that situation other than document the event as it unfolded, as her defense claims.
Lonina is currently being held on a $125,000 bond, while bond has been set for Gates at $300,000. Both have pleaded not guilty to their charges. The pair are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on April 20, 2016, no word yet on when their official trial proceedings will begin.