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Twelve minors and an adult were charged yesterday with repeatedly raping and assaulting a teenage girl from Tel Aviv over the past three years, beginning when she was 15.

The central suspect in the case is accused of coercing the girl to have sex with him and his friends in private homes as well as public places including parks, bomb shelters and a snooker club. Prosecutors said the girl resisted the attacks, which included gang rape, and that the suspects knew she didn't want to have sex with them.

The defendants said she followed the orders of the central suspect, whom she began dating in high school, the way a soldier would obey her commander.

The suspects were charged in the Tel Aviv District Court with 12 counts of aggravated rape, indecent assault, sodomy and other offenses. They were also charged with the indecent assault and attempted rape of the plaintiff's friend, now 20, and police said a third plaintiff may also join the suit.

"Now is not the time for legalistic sophistry, but for trying to understand how we arrived at where we are," said Avi Himi, a lawyer for one of the suspects. "The indictment is harsh, painful and regretful. We are all committed to genuine self-examination - most of all the accused, but also the families, the friends, all of us. The plaintiff's pain is our pain, and I believe that at this point everything must be done to assist her as much as possible."

The main plaintiff met the central suspect in the case at their Tel Aviv high school in 2006.

After they began dating, the girl told him she loved and needed him and would do anything as long as he didn't leave her, according to the indictment. It said she threatened to kill herself if he did leave her.

Emotional state

The prosecution says he realized he could exploit the girl's emotional state and ordered her to have sex with his friends, individually and together.

Some of the acts were filmed by the accused, the prosecution said.

The central suspect is also accused of beating the girl and extorting NIS 2,000 to NIS 3,000 from her. In one of the incidents described in the indictment, the teenager is said to have attacked the girl when she refused to have sex with him. He allegedly punched her in the face several times, threw a basketball at her, delivered a forceful blow to her vagina and raped her.

In another incident, when she refused to have sex with one of his friends, the indictment says he slapped her across the face and asked, "So what did I bring you here for?"

The prosecution said that while the girl was being questioned by police, one of the suspects called to tell her not to get them into trouble. He is facing an additional charge of obstructing justice.

During the investigation, police found cell phone footage showing the central suspect taunting a young girl, with a few more teenagers standing around laughing. When the girl was identified and called in for questioning, she told officers she had been sexually assaulted by the central suspect on several occasions but that the assaults stopped after she broke off with him.

Police said the girl may become a third complainant in the case and that her involvement could lead to further arrests.

One of the teenagers seen in the footage, today an adult, has been identified and detained, and police said they would request that his remand be extended.