MARTINEZ -- A Richmond gang member testified Tuesday that he was shocked when a senior gang member directed him and two teenagers to sexually assault a woman he kidnapped off the street in 2008.

The witness claimed he refused the order, but the teens eager to make a name for themselves in the gang obeyed, despite the fact that sexual assault is not condoned by the gang at large.

"I was panicking the whole time," the witness said at the gang rape trial of Humberto Salvador, 36, of Richmond. The witness's attorney requested that his name not be published because of a threat of gang retaliation.

"I just couldn't believe this was happening."

 Humberto Hernandez Salvador
Humberto Hernandez Salvador

Salvador faces life in prison if convicted at his trial on 15 felony charges, including kidnapping, gang rape, street terrorism and a hate crime enhancement alleging that he targeted the lesbian victim at least in part because of her sexual orientation. The victim testified last week that during the rape, Salvador repeatedly said, "You like men now, don't you? Tell me you like men."

The witness said he, Salvador, then-15-year-old Robert Ortiz and then-16-year-old Darrell Hodges were burglarizing and looting cars at 14th Street and Visalia Avenue the night of Dec. 13, 2008, when Salvador "took it upon himself to rob" the victim.


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Salvador allegedly beat the woman in the head with a large metal flashlight and forced her to remove all her clothes before he directed the other gang members to join him in the victim's car, where he sexually assaulted her as Ortiz drove the group to an abandoned apartment complex.

At the complex carport, the others waited by the car while Salvador continued to sexually assault and beat the woman, according to the witness.

"I turned my eyes the other way. I just couldn't believe the rape was going on," the witness said.

Salvador then ordered him and the teens to participate, the witness said, telling them it was "their turn." The witness said he grabbed Ortiz by the wrist and told him, "Don't do it." He said he had been mentoring the boys in the way of gang life and respecting gang elders, but Salvador's actions were "crossing the line."

The teens were surrounding the woman when, the witness said, Salvador drove him to another neighborhood, where Salvador ditched the victim's car and cellphone and burned his clothes covered in her blood.

Ortiz, 20, is awaiting trial in the case. Hodges, 20, pleaded guilty to forcible oral copulation in concert and was sentenced last week to 24 years in prison.

The trial is expected to wrap up this week.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.