US & Canada

Isidro Garcia charged with holding girl captive

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Media captionGarcia denies all the charges, which include rape and lewd acts on a minor

A man accused of kidnapping a teenager and holding her captive for 10 years and forcing her to marry him has been charged in a California court.

Isidro Garcia, 42, has been charged with rape, lewd acts on a minor, and kidnapping to commit a sexual offence.

The woman, now 25, had a child with the alleged kidnapper. She contacted police after getting in touch with her sister on Facebook, authorities said.

Mr Garcia denies all the charges and his lawyer said the woman had lied.

Outside court on Thursday, Charles Frisco said his client never hit his wife and would never have prevented her from leaving.

The woman was lying about enduring physical and sexual abuse because the couple was breaking up, Mr Frisco added.

"Like all married people and like all couples, people have problems, people break up and sometimes get very belligerent during the divorce process, the separation process, and say things that aren't true," said Mr Frisco.

According to police in southern California, the abuse began in 2004 when Mr Garcia was dating the victim's mother and residing with her and her daughters in Santa Ana, a city in Orange County.

In August, he assaulted the victim's mother and drugged the teenager, who arrived in the US from Mexico only a few months previously.

He drove her 26 miles (42km) north to Compton, in Los Angeles county, where he locked her in a garage, police said.

Mr Garcia allegedly told the victim her family had given up looking for her. The woman twice tried to escape but he beat her severely, police said.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Garcia lived with the woman in the top left apartment

On Wednesday, Cpl Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department told reporters Mr Garcia had "brainwashed" her and threatened to have her family deported.

He said that in 2007, he forced the woman into a marriage, using documents he obtained in Mexico, and in 2012 the two had a child.

Recently, she contacted her sister on Facebook and was told that her mother had indeed been trying to find her, using a Spanish-language newspaper and television station.

Image copyright Santa Ana Police

The communication with her sister encouraged her to flee, said Cpl Bertagna.

On Monday she went to police to report that she was a victim of domestic abuse and that she had been abducted.

In an interview with KABC television, the woman said tearfully in broken English that when she was kidnapped she was only a helpless teenager and could only do what her captor wanted.

"I don't have a life all these 10 years," she said.

Neighbours in the street in Bell Gardens, Los Angeles, where the couple lived in recent years said on Wednesday evening they were stunned by the news, describing them as a happy couple who doted on their young daughter and even hosted parties.

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Media captionNeighbours: Kidnap victim and man acted "like normal couple"

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