RIO DE JANEIRO — A Brazilian court has convicted three men in the gang rape of an American student on a transit van, a crime in Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana seaside tourist district that shocked the nation and focused attention on a surge of reported rape cases in Brazil.
A judge sentenced two of the men — Jonathan Froudakis de Souza, 20, and Walace Aparecido de Souza Silva, 21 — to 49 years in prison each for crimes that included rape, aggravated robbery and extortion, in a ruling issued Wednesday. Another man, Carlos Armando Costa dos Santos, 21, was found guilty of rape and extortion and sentenced to 21 years. A 14-year-old boy who took part in the assault is awaiting trial in a court for minors.
The assailants pummeled the face of the American student, 21, breaking her nose and raping her repeatedly in front of her male companion, a French citizen who was tied up and beaten with a metal bar as he witnessed the assault. The victims were forced to use their bank cards to withdraw cash, which was stolen, before the attackers freed them in a gritty area of Rio.
The attack, in late March, drew scrutiny to a wave of rapes on public vans and buses, pointing to the dangers of using public transportation in Brazil's major cities.
Afterward, a 22-year-old working-class Brazilian woman said she had been raped by the same men in the same van a week earlier. Though she reported the crime immediately, police failed to investigate, provoking criticism that authorities didn't take action until an American was attacked.