A criminal trial began this week in Utah against three defendants accused of raping a 9-year-old girl in 2016 as her mother used drugs in the same home.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, authorities in Uintah County identified the suspects after the alleged victim selected their photos out of a lineup.
They have since been arrested and each is now facing charges of first-degree felony rape of a child and first-degree felony sodomy of a child.
The girl was scheduled to testify against 38-year-old Larson RonDeau, 31-year-old Jerry Flatlip and 28-year-old Randall Flatlip in a court appearance Thursday in the 8th District Court in Salt Lake City.
Police say a fourth suspect, 22-year-old Josiah RonDeau, was initially expected to face similar charges, but they were dropped.
Prosecutors were reportedly unable to make their case when the alleged victim’s mother could not be compelled to testify in a preliminary hearing nearly two years ago. The woman had previously identified the three other suspects, according to police.
During that same 2016 hearing, the girl’s recorded testimony was replayed in court.
“They took me to the back and all four of them did that to me,” she said, claiming that they told her if she told anyone “they were going to kill” her.
The mother told police she brought her daughter to the home to see a friend she met in prison. During the visit, she claimed she retreated to the garage to use methamphetamine. She said her daughter acted upset when she returned and wanted to leave the home.
A couple of days later, the woman said her daughter told her details of the alleged rape.
The defendants’ lawyers have maintained the woman coerced her daughter into lying about the attack, citing statements in the girl’s testimony including her claim that her mother said “they set her up.”
One attorney has since pointed to the results of medical examinations as “very favorable” for the men accused of abusing the girl
The girl remains in her tribe’s custody as of the latest reports available.
[Featured image: Jerry Flatlip, Larson RonDeau and Randall Flatlip/Uintah County Sheriff’s Office via AP]