2 college students charged in sexual attack on Florida beach during spring break


http://www.newsherald.com/news/crime-public-safety/men-charged-with-sexual-battery-in-videotaped-pcb-incident-1.463108?page=0

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Photo shows two college students, Delonte Martistee, left, and Ryan Austin Calhoun, right, who were charged in a sexual attack on a Florida beach in March. (Bay County Sheriff’s Office)

Officers have arrested two students on charges of what authorities are calling a Spring Break “gang rape” on a crowded beach in broad daylight, according to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.

And officials expect more arrests in connection with the incident to follow.

During a press conference Friday, BCSO officials announced the arrests of Delonte’ Martistee, 22, and Ryan Austin Calhoun, 23, both students of Troy University in Alabama, on charges in connection with a sexual battery by multiple perpetrators that occurred between March 10-12.

VIDEO: EDITED FOOTAGE TAKEN FROM A CELLPHONE THAT LED TO CHARGES»» (WARNING: CONTAINS ADULT LANGUAGE)

The initial incident went unreported, though it occurred in the presence of hundreds of witnesses on a crowded beach in broad daylight, leaving officials concerned with how much crime has gone unreported or ignored by visitors during Spring Break.

The arrests stem from a video taken in March behind Spinnaker Beach Club, 8795 Thomas Drive. Several men are surrounding an incapacitated young woman on a beach chair. As she tries to remove their hands from her genital region, utterances to the effect of “she isn’t going to know” can be heard from the men.

Sheriff Frank McKeithen fumed as he likened the scene to “wild animals preying on a carcass laying in the woods” and called the video the “most disgusting, sickening thing” he has ever seen.

“This is happening in broad daylight with hundreds of people seeing and hearing what is happening, and they are more concerned about spilling their beer than somebody being raped,” McKeithen said. “… This is such a traumatizing event for this girl. No one should have to fear this would happen in Panama City Beach, but it does.”

A representative of Spinnaker declined to comment.

The video was obtained by Troy Police during an investigation into a shooting in the college town, officials said. Officers discovered the video while searching the phone of a witness to the shooting and contacted BCSO. Otherwise, the incident might have not been reported, McKeithen said.

The victim said she thought she had been drugged at the time, and she did not remember the incident enough to report it, she told BCSO.

“She knows something happened, but she doesn’t know what happened,” McKeithen said.

It is not the first incident of its kind, either. BCSO has gotten leads on other sexual batteries on the beach in broad daylight this year by following social media. In one video, a crowd pours beer on a girl who appears to be incapacitated while a male performs oral sex on her. The trend of sexual crimes going unreported and a flood of firearms into Bay County this year were particularly concerning to BCSO officials with the future of Spring Break.

“How many of these do we not know about,” McKeithen said. “We have such an array of blame to pass. My blame is that these people coming to Panama City Beach think this is acceptable.

Days ago, officers laid out a spread of guns and drugs recovered during Spring Break to demonstrate what they have been dealing with this year. One side of the table was covered with drugs running the gamut from marijuana to MDMA — otherwise known as “Molly” — to cocaine and heroin. The other side held 49 handguns, an unprecedented amount that increased from nine last year.

However, the report of the “gang rape” video and the arrests Friday were a tipping point for law enforcement, McKeithen said. He touted laws during Spring Break banning drinking on the beach and parking lots, early “last call” times at local bars and clubs not being able to allow non-military people under 21 to enter. And, despite pushback from local businesses claiming the laws were and will be detrimental to business, McKeithen said he will continue to fight for stricter Spring Break regulations in the coming year.

This draws the line in the sand for us,” McKeithen said. “It is not safe for our children on the beach. … If you condone this behavior, you should be in jail, as far as I’m concerned.”

Martistee, of Bainbridge, Ga., and Calhoun, of Mobile, Ala., were en route to Bay County on Friday evening. The two men will be taken to the Bay County Jail to await first appearance. According to officials, Martistee is a promising track star at Troy University.

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