Three Georgia boys, aged 8 and 9, were charged with alleged kidnapping and raping an 11-year-old girl in the woods near a suburban apartment complex, court officials and police said as quoted by media reports Tuesday.
The boys, whose names were being withheld from the meida due to their ages, appeared in court in Cobb County, north of Atlanta, on Monday afternoon. They were ordered to remain in custody until a further hearing.
Acworth, Ga., police said the attack happened Thursday near the apartment complex where they all had been playing.
The girl's mother reported it to authorities Sunday.
"The victim said they were playing outdoors and the girl was forced into a wooded area where she was sexually assaulted, where one of the boys raped her," Acworth police Captain Wayne told the media.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports said the boys are charged with rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment and sexual assault.
"Never in my 20-plus years of law enforcement have I conceived of something like this," said Police Chief Michael Wilkie of Acworth.
The father of one of the boys told AP that no force was used against the girl, and said the allegations have been leveled because the accuser "didn't want to get in trouble with her parents."
But Wilkie said children that young cannot legally agree to sex, "so we have to go with the charges we have."
He told the media one of the boys was accused of threatening to hit the girl with a rock before the alleged assault.
The victim's mother said to the media: "They do need to be taught a lesson because if they do it to her, they could do it to somebody else. And who knows when they become teenagers what they can do to other girls."
Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head told reporters the current rape charges against the boys would be replaced with juvenile charges, since they are too young to be prosecuted on felony charges.
Under Georgia law, juvenile defendants must be at least 13 before a case can be transferred to the adult system.
The juvenile charges could bring up to five years probation and time in a state youth home if the boys are ruled delinquent.
Acworth is some 50 km northwest of Atlanta in the city's fast-growing outer suburbs.