SANTA ANA, California — A California man was ordered Friday to stand trial on charges of kidnapping and raping a 15-year-old girl that he went on to marry and live with for a decade.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald made the decision after hearing preliminary evidence against 41-year-old Isidro Garcia, who has pleaded not guilty.
Authorities said the daughter of Garcia's live-in girlfriend told them he began fondling her shortly after she was brought from Mexico in 2004 to live with her mother in Santa Ana, and that he repeatedly had sex with her despite her protests.
After an argument broke out at the home, the girl said, Garcia took her to a neighboring county, where he told her she would be deported and separated from her mother if she contacted authorities, Santa Ana police Cpl. Ricardo Diaz testified.
The girl was given fake ID and a job but Garcia prevented her from fleeing and assaulted her, Diaz said. Garcia later married and fathered a daughter with the girl, who is now 25, and lived with her until last year.
"This is a different type of captivity," prosecutor Whitney Bokosky told reporters after the hearing. "It is more of a mental captivity. She doesn't know where else to go, she doesn't know where else to turn to."
Garcia is charged with one count of rape, one count of kidnapping with intent to rape, and three counts of lewd acts on a child. He is being held on $1 million bail and scheduled to be arraigned May 5.
The case came to light last year when the woman went to a police station in Bell Gardens to report a domestic violence incident and was connected to a missing-persons report filed by her mother in 2004.
Defense lawyer Charles Frisco said the girl left willingly with Garcia and fabricated the allegations after reconnecting last year with her sister on Facebook and attempting to win back her mother's love.
"She had so many opportunities to leave," Frisco said.
Neighbors were shocked to learn of the case and said the pair, who in recent years lived in a Los Angeles suburb, seemed happy and loving.
Zak Salazar, a 53-year-old friend of Garcia who attended the hearing, had trouble imagining that the friendly, helpful man he knew would be capable of the allegations made by Diaz.
"We're listening to her side" of the story, he said.