NEW ORLEANS — What some advocates described as bond amounts set too low for two men accused of raping, drugging, beating and holding a 16-year-old girl against her will led to outrage Friday.
"How can they not care, I got to believe that anyone reading these stories, watching television has got to be outraged as we are," Jim Kelly at Covenant House said.
Kelly heads the shelter where some of his residents have been victims of sex trafficking, and he's shocked to see bond for the two men accused in this case set to an amount that in his opinion is questionably low.
"If I'm her I'm afraid that these guys are going to kill me," Kelly said.
Her accused attackers are both charged with child sex trafficking. Elbert Riascos, 26, is accused of rape, false imprisonment, cruelty to a juvenile, production, and possession of child pornography, drug dealing and resisting arrest.
Orleans Parish Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell, the father-in-law of mayor Latoya Cantrell, set Riascos' bond at $90,000.
Jovan Martin, 24, the second suspect, was also booked with resisting arrest. His bond was set at $20,000.
Authorities alleged the men raped, drugged, and beat the New Orleans high school student repeatedly, and sold the teen for sex while in their captivity.
Louisiana state troopers are investigating the case and say both men were on probation at the time of their arrests. Martin had also just gotten out of jail on gun charges the day before this arrest.
“These are horrible crimes, charges of raping a minor, kidnapping her and trafficking her, and for these low bonds to be set it's completely egregious,” New Orleans City Councilwoman Helena Moreno said.
Sheri Lochridge a sex trafficking caseworker at Covenant House compared the bond amounts with other suspects accused of lesser crimes.
"These are people charged with just possession of stolen things and their bond amounts are right below what somebody that just raped a 16-year-old, sold her to complete strangers for profit their bond is set out," Lochridge explained as she went through a list of dockets on the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office website.
In some cases, the suspects did not meet bond and spent weeks in jail, but this time there's fear that the men could still somehow make bond and be freed again.
"That's a strong message saying slap on the wrist," Lochridge said.
Bonds are typically set based on risk assessment as well as the discretion of the judge. WWL-TV reporters reached out to Judge Harry Cantrell but he did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
"A 16-year-old woman raped, abducted, assaulted, and trafficked, if we're not protecting her, who are we protecting?" Kelly questioned.
For now it appears the two men may have a hard time bonding out, as both have violated their probation, but leaders like Councilwoman Moreno said she thinks questions about the bond amounts are still warranted.
“I've been getting calls all day long from people who are outraged over this; other judges, police officers, different advocates," Moreno said, "and I have to tell you, people should be outraged."
Neither suspect had posted bail as of Friday evening, according to jail records.
Stay with Eyewitness News on WWL-TV and WWLTV.com for more on this developing story.