Gregory Leary, 20, one of five suspects accused of gang-raping a 7-year-old New Jersey girl, is seen on a video monitor at a hearing Thursday, April 8, 2010, in Trenton, N.J.

*A horrifying case – a gang rape of a 7-year-old allegedly sold by her teenage stepsister to armed men – grew more bizarre when the girl’s stepfather showed up outside the Trenton courthouse Thursday to say that three of the five accused men had actually tried to help the girl.

He was summoned to the courthouse by family members of the suspects, who have his phone number on speed dial, a seemingly strange alliance amid a crime that has inflamed a poor community.

“These three had nothing to do with nothing; I don’t know why they locked them up,” the stepfather said of Gregory Leary, 20; Timear Lewis, 19; and a 17-year-old whom authorities have not identified because of his age.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people alleging sex crimes and is not naming the stepfather to avoid identifying the girl.

In all, five men and boys have been arrested on suspicion of raping the girl. The other suspects are ages 13 and 14. The 15-year-old stepsister also has been charged with promoting prostitution.

Lewis is scheduled to make his first court appearance Friday. It was his mother who called the girl’s stepfather, imploring him to come to the courthouse to talk to reporters.

“Please tell them my son did not do this,” Tracy Lewis said. “He was there but he didn’t touch anyone.”

Police say there is DNA evidence of the crime, but the prosecution may hinge on the word of a little girl, her troubled stepsister and the other men and boys who watched the crime.

Get MORE of this EURweb/AP story HERE.