By Anna Gustafson
A Maspeth teenager was convicted this week of orchestrating and participating in the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl he met on MySpace in 2008, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Harpreet Singh, 18, of 86-33 55th Ave., was convicted by a Queens Supreme Court jury Monday of along with at least four other teens raping the girl whom he met online in early 2008.
Four others earlier had pleaded guilty to first-degree rape in the case and a fifth individual was being sought after failing to appear for a scheduled court appearance last year.
Singh had befriended the girl on MySpace, a social networking site that allows users to post photos and personal information, in early 2008. He began to ask for a number of nude photos of her and after she sent them to him, Singh told the 16-year-old he was going to post them on the Internet if she did not have sex with him.
The next day, Singh and the others gang raped her at a home in Maspeth, Brown said. Afterward, the girl went home, locked herself in the bathroom, swallowed medicine and tried to hang herself, Brown said. Her mother came home soon thereafter and called 911. The girl is still alive.
“The young victim is to be commended for coming forward and confronting her attacker at trial,” Brown said. “She testified with dignity and grace during her two days on the witness stand. The defendant and his friends changed her life forever two years ago, and while the scars of what occurred may be with her for the rest of her life, hopefully this conviction will provide her with some small measure of help in overcoming the trauma she experienced during the assault on her.”
Singh was found guilty June 4 on six counts of rape, criminal sexual act, sexual abuse and coercion. Queens Supreme Court Justice Robert C. Kohm, who presided at the three-week trial, set sentencing for June 23. Singh could face up to 25 years in prison, Brown said.
The teens who pleaded guilty to raping the teen were Noman Gondal, 18, of Maspeth; Anjam Shahzad, 24, of Maspeth; Vikram Singh, 18, of Flushing; and a juvenile offender. A sixth defendant, Arsalan Gondal, 22, of Maspeth is also charged with participating in the rape. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest when he failed to appear for a court appearance April 15, 2009.
Brown said this incident highlighted the dangers that can come with using social networking sites.
“Social networking sites on the Internet may be fun, but as this case illustrates, people, especially youngsters, should be very careful about what they post on the sites, as there are individuals out there who will use such information for their own nefarious purposes,” Brown said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.