On Tuesday, Rashad Deihim and Kailyn Bonia were convicted of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in the woods near an elementary school in Saugus, Massachusetts. In a sick twist, the incident was captured on Snapchat and sent around to others—a move that, awful as it was, likely helped save the teenager’s life and prove the pair’s guilt.
A jury found Deihim, 21, and Bonia, 20, guilty of intent to rape, indecent assault and battery on a person older than 14, and kidnapping, according to CNN. Deihim was also found guilty of posing the underage victim while she was naked.
The victim, now 18, reportedly couldn’t remember much about the assault, but said she remembered consuming vodka while in the woods with Deihim and Bonia. When she was eventually discovered by police, prosecutors said she was “literally within hours of dying” from the drugs and alcohol, the Boston Globe reported.
She was found after a friend of Deihim and Bonia distributed Snapchat footage of the assault. (The friend, Tim Cyckowski, pleaded guilty to documenting the incident.) Cyckowski sent it to Sydnee Enos, who screenshotted the footage and showed her parents. After the cops were notified, the victim was found “half-naked in the woods,” according to the Globe.
“Sydnee is amazing ... If it wasn’t for her, let me tell you something, I don’t think they would have found my kid,” the victim’s mother told the Globe. “She saved my daughter’s life.”
Ari Ezra Waldman, an associate professor of law at New York Law School, told CNN that the footage also likely helped convict Deihim and Bonia. “Not only did a witness see what happened, was able to identify the victim, and then inform law enforcement, but the images must have had a powerful impact on the jury.”
According to Enos’ testimony, one clip showed Bonia’s attempts to force the victim—who was on her knees—to perform a sex act on Deihim. Another depicted Bonia as she kissed and touched the victim.
Deihim and Bonia’s lawyers had apparently argued that the incident was consensual.
While horrifying, the documentation of sexual assault—or other crimes, for that matter—on social media isn’t entirely uncommon. The Steubenville rape case, in which a teenage girl’s rape was recorded with cell phones and widely distributed, is perhaps the most well known example. But there have been others, like an alleged rape that was live streamed over Periscope, and another alleged assault that was posted to the app Yeti.