Charges after woman’s decade in captivity

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Los Angeles - A California man was charged Thursday with kidnapping and repeatedly sexually assaulting a woman for a decade while holding her captive with threats and coercion, police said.

Isidro Medrano Garcia, 42, was indicted a day after police announced that the woman, now aged 25, had come forward with a child fathered by Garcia, who allegedly forced her to marry him.

He faces up to 19 years in jail if convicted.

The alleged victim was the daughter of Garcia's then live-in girlfriend in an LA suburb. He began by grooming her while still living with her mother, and kidnapped her after a fight with his girlfriend.

Garcia was charged with “kidnapping his girlfriend's 15-year-old daughter and sexually assaulting her for a decade,” said the Orange County District Attorney's office.

“Between August 2004 and April 2014, Garcia is accused of controlling Jane Doe by telling her that her family did not want her and was not looking for her,” it added in a statement.

“He is accused of threatening the victim that if she called the police to report him, she would get in trouble for using a false identity,” it said.

The couple moved around to evade being located by police, police said.

The case started in February 2004 when Garcia met the victim while living with her mother. In June that year, Garcia is accused of “grooming” her by buying gifts and taking her side in arguments.

Two months later Garcia and the mother got into a fight, which was reported to the local Santa Ana Police Department (SAPD), “but a case could not be proven at that time.

“Shortly thereafter, Garcia is accused of kidnapping (her),” and “taking her to a house in Compton and holding her against her will,” it said, referring to the infamously rough south Los Angeles neighborhood.

The next day he allegedly gave her a fake ID, which he used to threaten her. He even secured a job for her where he worked, but this only helped him to never let her out of his sight.

In 2010, he allegedly got her pregnant.

Her path to release began this April, when she contacted her sister on Facebook. After meeting with her sister and mother, she came forward to police on Monday of this week.

Details which have emerged suggest that, while not physically held captive, she was effectively kept from fleeing by sexual and emotional abuse.

She could also have developed so-called Stockholm Syndrome, in which kidnap victims come to relate strongly with their captors.

Neighbors described them leading an apparently normal life.

“I see him every day, going to work, (saying) 'Hi, how you been?'“ one unidentified neighbor in Bell Gardens, southeast of Los Angeles told NPR radio, adding that the victim was able to drive a car.

Garcia was charged with one count of forcible rape, three counts of lewd acts on a minor, and one count of kidnapping to commit a sexual offense. He was due to be arraigned Thursday, and prosecutors were asking for him to be held in lieu of $1 million bail.

Sapa-AFP


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