California man charged with kidnapping girl, holding her 10 years

Reuters News
Posted: May 22, 2014 4:36 PM

By Tori Richards

SANTA ANA, California (Reuters) - A California man accused of abducting a 15-year-old girl and holding her captive for a decade was charged on Thursday with rape and kidnapping, even as his lawyer suggested the young woman went with him willingly and was treated "like a queen."

Police say the woman, now 25, told detectives she endured a decade of physical and sexual abuse after being abducted by her mother's live-in boyfriend, Isidro Garcia, from the family's suburban Santa Ana home in 2004.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, was forced into marriage in 2007 and later bore his child, a daughter, in 2012, police said. She contacted police this week after reaching out to her sister on Facebook.

Garcia, 41, made a brief court appearance in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday on charges of rape, lewd acts on a minor and kidnapping. He was ordered held on $1 million bail but did not enter a plea and was ordered back to court in June.

His attorney, Charles Frisco, told reporters after the hearing that his client and the young woman were a couple and suggested her accusations were prompted by marital problems.

"It appears that the couple was going through a divorce and she wanted to get back at him," Frisco said, adding that his client had no criminal record and was shocked to find himself charged with such serious crimes.

"He treated her like a queen," Frisco said. "He was devoted to her. She had her own job. She had her own car. He was a good, loyal, honest father as well as a husband."

Asked about the impropriety of marrying a girl at the age of 15 and accusations that he took her against her will, Frisco said he could not speak to events of a decade ago but that Garcia was a simple man who "comes from a different culture."

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Neighbors who lived near the couple in the community of Bell Gardens, some 20 miles from Santa Ana, told local media they were shocked by the allegations and that the woman never appeared to be in distress.

Orange County District Attorney's spokeswoman Farrah Emami declined to address comments made by neighbors but said the woman had been controlled by her captor despite having chances to escape.

"This is a victim who was kidnapped at 15 years old and convinced no one was looking for her," Emami said. "Over the course of many years she was held mentally captive."

(Writing and additional reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)