Saturday, April 2, 2011

Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

Left to right:  Paul Thorington, Anthony Albano, and Ray Laranjo.
One of my readers urged me to start writing about current events so it has been my plan to oblige for the last month or so. However, I never thought I'd write about a news story that hits so close to home. Last week, a female college student alleged that three men held her down and took turns raping her in a Miami Beach hotel room while on spring break. One of these men is my friend from school.

According to a Miami Beach police arrest affidavit,the woman said Paul Thorington, 22, of Lomita; Anthony Albano, 23, of Rancho Palos Verdes; and Ray Joseph Laranjo, 23, of Torrance sexually assaulted her on March 23 after she agreed to go to their seventh-floor room at the Fontainebleau to drop off her purse.

KTLA has been following the story and attempted to speak with the suspects by visiting their homes yesterday. Only Thorington was available and he offered no comment. If I were falsely accused, I'd be screaming "I'm innocent!"Perhaps his attorney has instructed him not to speak with the media, but if that's the case he should not have answered the door. When the general public hears "no comment" they associate it with guilt. In fact, when we see the alleged rapists on television it's hard to imagine the suspects are innocent.  

In this case, the innocence of these men is all I want to imagine. I've had classes with Albano and he is one of the nicest people I've ever met. He has too much to lose and would never have to force himself on anyone. Please don't assume that I'm being naive because I presume innocence. At first glance, this case looks bad. Why would three men be sexually involved with one woman? Then again, why would one woman go to a hotel room that was 26 blocks away from where she met three strangers? There are so many aspects to consider before assuming anything. It's best to remain neutral, but it's hard to do that when images of these "suspects" are plastered everywhere. Commenters on numerous websites have labeled them as "monsters" and wished ill upon them without knowing the facts.

That leads me to question whether or not the general public believes that suspects are innocent until proven guilty. It appears to me that only those that know these men personally care to presume innocence while others look at what's shown in the media and do the opposite. It worries me that the cost for these men to have the opportunity to prove innocence is too hefty. The three Southern California natives will have to return to Florida to fight the case. What started as a trip to enjoy themselves has potentially changed their lives forever.

The alleged suspects were booked on charges in Miami Dade County of sexual battery involving multiple offenders and have been released on $50,000 bail each. Arraignment for them is scheduled for April 14. If charged with sexual battery (the Florida designation for what is called rape in California) they could face up to 30 years in prison.

Even if the charges are dropped, the embarrassment of the issue will live on. One simple internet search and you can find that they were arrested. Their names and photos are easily accessible and the alleged victim's identity is protected. Does the media expose too much information about suspects before actual facts are available? Should the public have a right to know so much? Be sure to post your thoughts and comments below.

Thanks for reading,

Alexandria B.


  1. The media absolutely put way too much out there. Maybe call me naive..but this girls story is shit. Who walks 26 blocks to put her purse down. Sounds like more of an inconvenience to me than holding it, unless of course she had some sort of intention of being with one of the men. Where did her friends go that were in the story? Why would they let her go to a room by herself with 3 random men. Why would the men rape this girl in the hotel room they were staying at. The reputation of these men may be ruined all because of an accusation.

  2. @ Anonymous - I agree with you. Things just aren't adding up. I wasn't there, but I'm asking the same questions as you. I'm just praying that my friend is not guilty of this and that everyone is ok after it's all said and done. It's so sad. If the woman is lying, she needs some jail time!

  3. I feel like the media does put too much of the story out there for the public to judge & slap a rape label on them. BUT I will say that, having classes with the guy doesn't mean you know his real personality. I don't know if he's your good friend but people have many different sides to them. I really do hope these men are innocent because that is just an awful thing to do to someone. But lets not assume the girl is making it up either... just because she went back to the room with them, many girls leave their group of friends to hangout with cute guys (it's not smart but it happens) that doesn't mean she lying about being raped. She made a stupid mistake. Something really could've happened, but lets hope not. I hope they get a fair trial. Please keep us updated on this topic!

  4. I'm sorry but i feel like they must be guilty atleast to an extent. I dont see any reason why any sane girl would accuse 3 guys of gang raping her. no one wants to be seen as the victim of rape.. at the same time, yes there may be a slight possibility of their innocence, but is it likely? no.

  5. @Poppy - Hey chica! You're right, people are multifaceted. Even with that as the case, I don't wanna assume that they're guilty. I too hope they get a fiar trial and I will definitely try to keep ya'll posted. = )

    @Kitkat - So many people think like that. I don't see why any sane girl would go to a hotel room with three guys that she doesn't know. What group of sane guys would choose to rape a woman in the hotel that they're staying at? This whole case prompts tons of questions so that's why I'd like to go ahead and believe that these men are innocent until proven guilty. In our society, the word of female rape victims is all that's needed to convict people so I'm unsure how this will turn out.

    Thanks for reading!

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  7. what you wrote makes so much sense, the law presumes innocence until proven guilty, but the black being human are judgemental and reach conclusions before hearing the fact or even form their basis of believe on one side of the story
    i believe if the alleged victim's identity is going to stay anonymous then the alleged suspects should swell, public are entitled to know matters which relates to their interest, but that should be after the trail has been heard. these suspect might even get hurt out of despise, and hatred.

  8. This is crazy. I want to follow the whole "innocent until proven guilty" structure but sometimes that's not possible.

  9. I knew all of them in high school to and i remember all of them being cocky assho*les so why is everyone saying there awesome?

  10. First of all, all 3 guys passed a polygraph test so nobody got raped. And second, they were all relesed from house arrest because the prosecution can't find enough evidence to charge them. So all you haters judging from an accusation need to shut your mouths. And the person above, you were probably just a loser and should keep your mouth shut, it's 3 innocent lives you are bad mouthing.

  11. Thx KitKat

    @ Ms. Nana, Thanks for reading. You said "the black human beings are so judgmental" and I have to disagree. That was an extreme generalization and in this case, there are people of all races assuming that these men are rapists based off allegations. I do agree with the last part of your comment though... If the "victim" can remain anonymous and there isn't much evidence, the suspects shouldn't be all over the news. It's really unfair!

    @ Alee, I agree. I think like that too, but these days I tend to wanna hear both sides and see some proof before I start judging. = )

    @ My two lovely anonymous commenters:

    Being cocky in high school has absolutely NOTHING to do with this case so you commenting was a hater move. I'm saying that my interaction with one of them has been nothing but pleasant and others have had similar experiences I'm sure. And their friends and family probably don't think they're cocky a**holes so perhaps that's why...

    And finally, that's great to hear that they're off house arrest and passed the polygraph examinations. It'll be great when this is all over!


  12. thats right innocent tell proven guilty i coached one of these guys for years and do know his family parents and grandparents and i can say he would never do these things it is defentintly false acusations by someone who just simpily got there feelings hurt. and thats no way to treat people and let a prosecution team put some false reports out there. this how are system in the usa fails as a court. everything will come out but they do have to spend wasted moneys towards this all because a failed system.