The accused men involved in the gang-rape of a teenage girl in October 2009 during a Richmond High School homecoming dance remain behind bars awaiting trial, but one of the six just copped a plea in an arrangement that may involve testifying against the five others. Manuel Ortega, now 22, pleaded guilty to several charges including rape in concert and rape by a foreign object in concert, in exchange for a sentence of 32 years. His trial had just begun with jury selection this week.

Prosecutors won't reveal anything further about the plea deal, but it's interesting given how long it has taken to bring the men to trial. The other five suspects, two of whom were juveniles when they were arrested in November 2009, are Ari Morales (then 16), Marcelles Peter (then 17), Jose Montano (then 18), Elvis Torrentes (then 21), and John Crane Jr., the oldest of the bunch (now 46) who turned himself in in January 2010. The youngest suspect, Cody Smith, who was 15 at the time of the crime and was suspected of luring the girl out to the scene with the other men, was let free in 2010 and charges dropped against him.

Police say that on the night of October 24, 2009 the seven men were part of a group of 10 or more who beat, kicked, and urinated on the unidentified 16-year-old victim, who was heavily intoxicated at the time, and then forcibly raped her over the span of two and a half hours while others looked on, some shooting cell phone photos. This all happened in a dimly lit area outside Richmond High School during the homecoming dance.

Defense attorneys have tried to say that she was flirting with the men and was not forcibly raped. Obviously that argument doesn't work so well when there's gang rape and urine involved, so perhaps plea deals are wise.

The men were arraigned a full three years ago, with a preliminary hearing in December 2010, and it's unclear why it has taken this long to bring the cases to trial, but perhaps some new witnesses have come forward over time.

All previous coverage of the Richmond High gang rape case.