12 men arrested in statutory rape case involving an Alabama university
Twelve men were arrested in connection to a string of alleged statutory rapes of two underage girls that occurred at or near Jacksonville State University in Alabama, according to authorities and the university.
Nine men between the ages of 18 and 22 were first arrested over two days in mid-September, according to the Gadsden Times. The two latest arrests occurred Monday and brought the total number of men charged to 12.
Several of the men arrested are students at the university in Jacksonville, which is about 75 miles northwest of Birmingham, according to the university.
The two alleged victims are older than 12 but younger than 16 and are unaffiliated with the school, university attorney Sam Monk said.
All of the men are charged with second-degree rape, except one who faces a charge of second-degree sodomy, the Gadsden Times reported. They were all released on bond.
Second-degree rape under Alabama law is classified as sexual intercourse between someone who is 16 years old or older and a member of the opposite sex who is younger than 16 and older than 12.
Monk told NBC News the Jacksonville Police Department notified university law enforcement in September that they had determined that one or more men, some of whom were university students, had engaged in sexual contact with an underage girl.
As the investigation continued, another girl was identified. Both are under the age of 16, and the earliest contact between the girls and the group of men was in January.
“The girls were making contact through social media connections and then coming onto our campus or adjacent to our campus to meet these individuals,” Monk said, who noted that at least three of the individuals arrested had no link to the school.
He emphasized that no students or members of the university community “were ever at risk in this situation,” and that the district attorney’s office had taken up the investigation.
The Calhoun County District Attorney's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.
“As this case winds down, the university police and administration will continue looking at ways that we can enhance and improve security,” Monk said. “A lot of that comes through training and educating our students.”