An attorney for a man charged with abducting his then-girlfriend's teen daughter 10 years ago and forcing her into marriage said the accuser's claims of physical and sexual abuse are lies.
The accusations were made because the couple is breaking up and she wanted to "get the goat" of her husband, according to attorney Charles Frisco. He spoke after his client, Isidro Medrano Garcia, appeared in court for the first time since his arrest Wednesday in connection with the decade-long abduction case.
"She has her own motives for making something like this up," said Frisco, who appeared alongside Garcia Thursday during his initial court appearance. "There's no indiciation of any physical or mental abuse."
Garcia, 42, of Bell Gardens, was charged Thursday with one felony count of forcible rape, three felony counts of lewd acts on a minor and one felony count of kidnapping to commit a sexual offense, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office. The accuser was 15 at the time she met Garcia. Prosecutors requested that he be held on $1 million bail and arraignment was scheduled for June 9.
Garcia did not enter a plea.
Prosecutors and police said the man used physical violence and threats to scare the woman and prevented her from escaping. The woman "saw no way out" and tried twice to escape, but was re-captured by Garcia and severely beaten, prosecutors added.
But his attorney said outside court that Garcia denies all charges, never struck his wife and would never have prevented her from leaving.
"Every couple going through a divorce may say things and oftentimes will say things that simply aren't true because they want to get the goat of the other spouse," said Frisco (pictured, right). "That's probably what happened in this case."
The Santa Ana Police Department's investigation concluded that the then-15-year-old girl arrived from Mexico in February 2004 to join her mother and sister in Santa Ana.
In August of 2004, after Garcia assaulted her mother, he drugged the victim and drove her to a house in Compton, between Los Angeles and the family's Santa Ana home, police said.
“He told her then, ‘You can't go home, you're here illegally, you don't speak English. Your mother will call police, they will send you back,’” said Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department.
The mother filed a police report after her daughter's disappearance, "but they were changing their names and dates of birth and physical locations so that made it exceedingly difficult," Bertagna told the AP.
The woman, now 25, contacted police this week and said Garcia abducted her and, through physical, mental and sexual abuse, kept her from reuniting with her family.
Her accusations stunned neighbors in Bell Gardens, where the two most recently resided with their 3-year-old child. The man they knew as Tomas Medrano seemed like a loyal family man who bought his wife and child gifts and threw lavish parties.
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But prosecutors said Thursday that the woman was made to believe Garcia was her only "ally."
"Over the course of many, many years, maybe her freedoms did increase but she was still mentally his captive," said Farrah Emami, of the Orange County District Attorney's office. "She found the courage to come forward."