On 27 February 2016, Marina Lonina, then 18, watched as her friend was raped. Worse, she filmed the assault on her mobile phone and used a social-media app to livestream it to the world. Did her actions make her as guilty as the rapist himself?
What teenage girl doesn’t love shopping? It seemed like Marina Lonina and her 17-year-old friend did, anyway.
Because, on 26 February last year, the schoolfriends were at a shopping centre in Columbus, Ohio, when they met Raymond Boyd Gates, 29.
They got chatting and he bought them a bottle of vodka.
Who knows what they talked about exactly? But they had stuff in common – all three were of Russian descent.
Plus, Raymond was older –the girls were probably flattered by the attention.
So the next day, 27 February, they went to Gates’ house. There, they had some drinks. Got a bit drunk.
But what started as fun suddenly turned sinister.
Gates raped the tipsy 17-year-old girl.
As he was doing so, Marina Lonina started filming the sickening attack. Livestreaming it through the Periscope app.
Twisted people started ‘liking’ the video.
However, one of Marina’s friends saw the horrifying clip. Alarmed, she contacted the police, who investigated.
By April, both Marina Lonina and Gates were charged with kidnapping, rape, sexual battery and pandering sexually orientated matter involving a minor.
Lonina was also charged with use of a minor in nudity-orientated material or performance, for livestreaming her friend naked the day before.
If found guilty, the pair faced up to 40 years in prison each.
A police report accused Gates of holding down the victim with his bodyweight while assaulting her, saying she could be heard screaming ‘No, it hurts so much’ and ‘Please stop.’
Although Marina Lonina had no physical involvement in the rape itself, the case provoked a huge outcry because she filmed the traumatic attack.
Some believed that made her just as bad as the rapist himself. But others suggested she was a victim, too, having been manipulated by an older man.
It was alleged that in the video Lonina could be heard ‘giggling’, and at times it looked like Gates was trying to cover up his face with the bedclothes.
The victim alleged Lonina had set up the rape, but Marina Lonina’s lawyer denied this.
The prosecutor said the motive for the filming was unclear, but alcohol was a factor.
‘People need to know and understand that the use of a smartphone to video events can constitute serious felony crimes,’ he said. ‘They should think twice before they use their smartphones to either photograph or video anything of a sexual nature.’
In April last year, the case came to court… Marina Lonina’s lawyer spoke on her behalf. He said she ‘categorically’ denied the charges.
Both defendants initially pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The prosecutor told how, in her interview, Lonina said she was Periscoping the alleged incident to keep her friend from being assaulted, but got caught up by all the likes she was getting.
‘Based on the video that I saw, it didn’t appear for the most part that she was attempting to help the victim,’ he said.
However, Marina Lonina’s defence lawyer insisted that during the video Lonina tried to help the victim by getting her out of the house and asking her followers, ‘What should I do now?’
‘She’s a good kid,’ Lonina’s lawyer claimed. ‘…from a fine family and is the furthest thing from a rapist.’
He also told the court Lonina filmed everything on Periscope to help gather evidence.
The prosecution, however, said the victim was clearly shouting ‘stop’ during the attack. That the poor teenager was obviously in pain.
So was Lonina a victim, too? Was she really filming the attack to try to help her friend?
Last October, Raymond Boyd Gates, 29, admitted one count of rape and was sentenced to nine years in prison.
Did that make Lonina a rapist, too?
In February 2017, Marina Alexeevna Lonina, 19, made a plea deal with prosecutors in which she admitted one count of obstructing justice by failing to report the rape or hand over her evidence afterwards.
She was sentenced to nine months in prison.
Her lawyer said it was ‘an appropriate resolution to a difficult case’.
After, a victim’s statement was read out. In it, the girl who’d been raped said she still suffered panic attacks.
‘I was too gullible to see how manipulative she truly is,’ she said of Lonina.