A woman in Ohio has been charged with live-streaming the rape of a 17-year-old girl on Twitter’s Periscope app.
The assault allegedly took place on Feb. 27, while Marina Alexeevna Lonina, 18, and her “acquaintance” Raymond Boyd Gates, 29, were hanging out at a home in Columbus with Lonina’s friend, the 17-year-old.
“The victim and the two defendants were socializing and at some point in the evening it is alleged that Gates forced sexual intercourse with the victim and Lonina started Periscoping (live-streaming in real time) the sexual assault,” reads a statement from the Franklin County prosecutor’s office.
A friend of Lonina’s in another state saw the livestream and contacted authorities, the statement says. Lonina also allegedly took a picture of the 17-year-old girl ”in a state of nudity” the night before the assault.
Both Twitter and Periscope have suffered from harassment problems. High-profiles instances of abuse on Twitter include targeting women gamers by the male #GamerGate community. In 2014, Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda closed her Twitter account after receiving disturbing Photoshopped images of her father’s dead body. Shortly after Periscope launched in March 2015, female users were being barraged with rude and unsolicited sexual comments, according to news reports.
In February 2015, a month before Periscope rolled out, then-Twitter CEO Dick Costolo admitted in an internal memo that Twitter was poor at handling harassment. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we’ve sucked at it for years,” he wrote. “It’s no secret and the rest of the world talks about it every day.”
Twitter’s guidelines for Periscope ban “explicit graphic content,” including “depictions of child abuse, animal abuse, or bodily harm.” Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Twitter pointed to that policy.
Lonina and Gates have been indicted on charges including kidnapping, rape, sexual battery, and pandering sexually-oriented matter involving a minor. If convicted, each could face a prison sentence of more than 40 years.