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Group hug for young victim

A furniture store donated a full-size bed yesterday to the family of an 11-year-old girl who was raped in Kensington Monday on her way to school. Now she can nestle against her mother when darkness comes and brings nightmares of the unspeakable crime.

A furniture store donated a full-size bed yesterday to the family of an 11-year-old girl who was raped in Kensington Monday on her way to school. Now she can nestle against her mother when darkness comes and brings nightmares of the unspeakable crime.

Later, her family held a barbecue attended by Mayor Nutter, scores of police officers, and up to 100 friends and relatives at McPherson Square Park. The guests of honor were the two men who received a reward of $5,750 each for recognizing the suspect from a police photograph and capturing him.

The accused, Jose Carrasquillo, 26, was severely beaten by a mob after the two men detained him on a street Tuesday. He remained in custody yesterday but had not yet been charged with the rape, a police spokeswoman said. DNA test results were pending.

Try as they might to keep the mood festive yesterday, the girl's parents could not completely hide their sorrow and anger. "To see her smile is all I can ask right now," her father said as he hugged her and watched a stream of police officers and other well-wishers greet her.

The slight girl, dressed in jeans shorts and pink T-shirt, grinned shyly and ran off with her three sisters and one brother. Someone offered her a ticket to a Beyoncé concert, her mother said, and later the girl was treated to a ride around the block in a Porsche.

The Inquirer is withholding the names of the girl and her parents to protect her privacy.

"She has cold sweats and runs into our room at night," the girl's father, a retired auto technician, said with a tremor in his voice. "As soon as she closes her eyes, she relives it." He wants the family to move so she can recover emotionally.

The attack happened near Conwell Middle School, a few blocks from the family's rowhouse. The girl had just dropped her 4-year-old sister off at a day care and was heading to school alone when she was assaulted. Her attacker told her he had a gun and forced her to follow him six blocks to an alley, police said.

The attack was so brutal the child required surgery.

The girl's father said she told him later, "Daddy, people shouldn't be doing this to little kids." Though she had wanted to be a doctor, she now wants to be a lawyer and judge so she can make sure criminals stay off the street, he said.

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said last week that his department would not pursue charges against those who beat Carrasquillo and held him for police. Video surveillance shows the suspect trying to flee, Ramsey said, and the crowd acted to prevent him from getting away.

"We have people who saw an individual who committed a very brutal crime, and they grabbed him and held him for the police," Ramsey said. "You have to think about the emotion involved in this."

Yesterday, reward winner David Vargas, 18, found himself in a bear hug with the victim's father. "I feel great to be here, having him [the suspect] off the street."

He said he and the others who beat the suspect at Front and Clearfield Streets hadn't been patrolling the neighborhood looking for him but knew he would eventually show up on the street. "He had to come out from wherever he was hiding," Vargas said. Based on the police description and what was known in the neighborhood about the suspect, he said, he had no doubt that he and others had caught the right man. He said the group had been intent on punishing Carrasquillo but not killing him.

"He's a human being," Vargas said, "but he had to pay for what he did."

Fernando Genval, who also got a reward, did not want to comment.

The girl's mother said the child was slowly coming to terms with the horrors inflicted upon her. The child is "talking to us a little bit" about what happened, said the woman, whose hand was bandaged because she had punched a door in anger when she learned of the crime.

The girl, an honors student who likes to read, posed for photographs with cadres of police who embraced her and said they were there to protect her and make her feel better. On her pink T-shirt she wore a button from a victims' support group that said: "A pearl is a beautiful thing produced by surviving injury." She also wore a small gold handcuffs pin that she received from police. "We're so glad we can bring a little happiness to her life," said Sgt. Renee Butler, a 26th District patrol officer who treated the child like a celebrity and told her everyone was rooting for her.

Sgt. Lee Kenyatta also attended to pay his respects to the child and her parents. The girl's father said Kenyatta, a 25th District officer, had helped him through the rough spots and was active in the suspect's arrest.

Kenyatta said that police had identified Carrasquillo as the suspect "through intelligence" and that once they had released a photograph, people in the neighborhood captured him in "40 minutes, max."

The girl's father said the suspect had not been treated inhumanely. "He got what he deserved," he said.

"I'd love to see him get life with no possibility of parole."

As for the men who helped capture Carrasquillo, the victim's father called them heroes who had cared enough about a little girl to take action.

"They're very special to me and my family. Without them it would be chaos and I'd still be out in the streets looking for him myself," he said.

Nutter, who had met privately with the child Thursday, attended the afternoon barbecue because he had promised her he would, his spokesman Doug Oliver said.

"This was not a political event, not about vigilantism, or the capture, or the reward, just an opportunity for the mayor to interact with the young lady in a personal way," Oliver said. He said the mayor had brought the girl three books from the Bluford Series, young-adult novels that focus on the lives of a group of high school students and their families.

The characters attend Bluford High, named after Guion "Guy" Bluford Jr., America's first African American astronaut and a Philadelphia native. The girl had mentioned to the mayor that she enjoyed those books while they spoke for about an hour in her home Thursday.