Pair convicted in Snapchat rape
SALEM — A jury convicted two Saugus residents Tuesday of sexually assaulting an intoxicated 16-year-old girl in an attack that was videotaped and shared on social media through the popular messaging application Snapchat.
As the jury forewoman announced the verdicts in Essex Superior Court, Rashad Deihim, 21, and Kailyn Bonia, 20, showed little emotion, while some of their relatives burst into tears.
After about a day of deliberations, the jury of seven women and five men found Deihim and Bonia guilty of assault to rape, indecent assault and battery, and kidnapping in the September 2014 attack, carried out in the woods behind a Saugus elementary school.
The teenager who was assaulted, who is now 18, testified at trial but recalled few details about the attack. When she was found by police, she was so incapacitated from alcohol and drugs she was “literally within hours of dying,” prosecutors said.
Key evidence about the attack came from another teenager, Sydnee Enos, 18, who received the Snapchat videos and took screenshots of the recordings as they played on her phone. One of the videos showed her friend standing naked in the woods, pushing her hand forward and slurring the word, “Stop.”
In an interview Tuesday, the teenager’s mother praised Enos and her mother, Michelle, who also testified at trial.
“Sydnee is amazing. . . . If it wasn’t for her, let me tell you something, I don’t think they would have found my kid,” she said. “She saved my daughter’s life.”
She said her daughter was betrayed by Deihim and Bonia, whom she considered friends.
“My daughter was really violated,” she said. “She trusted them.”
Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, whose office prosecuted the case, praised the teenager for “her courage in facing her assailants in court.”
“I hope that, with this verdict, she is assured that what happened to her was not her fault,” he said.
The Globe does not name victims of sexual assault or their relatives.
Lawyers for Deihim and Bonia had asserted that the encounter recorded on Snapchat was consensual and their clients should be cleared of the charges.
James Caramanica, who represented Bonia, said he was disappointed by the verdict.
“The jury sat through a lot of emotional testimony and it is clear they worked hard,” he said in an e-mail.
Stephen Neyman, who represented Deihim, did not respond to requests for comment.
Judge Kathe M. Tuttman revoked bail for Deihim, who had been on house arrest. Bonia was already in custody.
Deihim was also convicted of posing a child in a state of nudity, while Bonia was acquitted of the same charge.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 6.
None of the charges carry minimum mandatory sentences, though Deihim could face as much as 20 years in prison for his conviction for posing a child in the nude, prosecutors said.
At trial, Sydnee Enos also testified that she contacted Timothy Cyckowski, the teenager sending the videos, to learn where he was. Enos’s father then relayed the information to police, who found the victim half-naked in the woods.
Enos testified that one video showed Bonia kissing and fondling the teenager, whom she had “almost in a headlock.” In another clip, the teenager was on her knees as Bonia tried to force her to perform a sex act on Deihim, Enos testified.
One woman who served on the jury said the defense’s case was weak.
“There was nothing there,” said the woman, who asked not to be named to protect her privacy. “It just felt, unfortunately, there was no case on the defendants’ side.”
The juror said she was moved by the teenager’s testimony that said she did not want Deihim and Bonia to go to jail.
“She felt like she had surrounded herself with friends that evening, and it obviously went really wrong,” the woman said.
Another juror said she did not believe the teenager could have consented to any sexual advances.
“It seemed pretty clear based on the evidence and testimony by different people that the victim was in no condition to consent to anything,” she said.
The jury came to the right conclusion, she said.
“It’s just sad,” she said. “It’s a cautionary tale.”