RIO DE JANEIRO — An American woman was gang-raped by three men aboard a public van in a six-hour abduction over the weekend that began in the seaside district of Copacabana, police said.
The attackers pummeled the woman’s face and tied up her male companion, a French citizen, then beat him with a metal bar as he witnessed the harrowing assault. The couple were forced to use bank cards to withdraw money from their accounts before the assailants freed them at a bus station on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.
The assault stunned many in Brazil, especially as Rio tries to promote itself as a city on the mend and prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.
‘'Everyone should be shocked by this horrendous crime,’’ said Aparecida Goncalves, the head of Brazil’s national office for combating violence against women.
Two men were arrested over the weekend, one of whom, the police said, confessed to the rape of the 21-year-old woman. The police said she had been in Brazil on a student visa. A third suspect was arrested Monday night.
The assault, police investigators said, began early Saturday, just after midnight, when the attackers forced other passengers out of the van. The woman was raped by all three men, who took turns driving the vehicle, the police said.
After the couple were freed about 6 a.m. Saturday and left at a bus station, the woman was taken to two hospitals for treatment including the administering of a cocktail of drugs containing the morning-after pill, to prevent pregnancy, and other medications to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
The woman left Brazil after registering the crime and undergoing preliminary medical treatment, while her companion remained here, where he is cooperating with the investigation, said Alexandre Braga, a senior police investigator with Rio’s special police unit for crimes involving tourists.