Orange County prosecutors have charged Isidro Garcia with kidnapping his girlfriend's 15-year-old daughter and sexually assaulting her repeatedly over a period of 10 years. Garcia denies all of the charges against him, said his lawyer, who suggested that his client was arrested because he and the woman were about to split up.
Garcia was charged Thursday with five felony counts, including rape, kidnapping to commit a sexual offense and committing lewd acts on a minor, according to a statement from the office of Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckus.
Garcia's arraignment, originally scheduled for Thursday, was postponed to June 9. He remains jailed; bail was set at $1 million.
According to prosecutors, Garcia sexually assaulted the woman — referred to in the statement as Jane Doe — three separate times and raped her at least once in the home they both shared with her mother, his girlfriend.
In 2004, following a domestic dispute between Garcia and the girl's mother, Garcia kidnapped the girl, held her against her will in a house in Compton and then gave her paperwork with a false identity, according to prosecutors.
For the next 10 years, prosecutors say, Garcia controlled the girl by telling her that her family did not want her and was not looking for her. He also allegedly threatened that if she called the police, she would get in trouble for using a false identity.
In 2010, according to prosecutors, Garcia fathered the young woman's child, who is currently in her custody.
Garcia is "shocked" by the charges against him, said his attorney, Charles Frisco, who questioned law enforcement's version of the story.
Garcia and the woman married at some point, Frisco said, adding that he does not yet know when. He said that the woman was on the verge of leaving Garcia when authorities arrested him.
"I know that he loved her," said Frisco. "From what I understand there were some problems that I’m not at liberty to go into at this point in terms of their marriage," Frisco said.
Frisco sought to cast doubt on the idea that Garcia held the woman against her will.
"I was told by numerous people that he treated her like a queen," said Frisco. "He was devoted. She had her own car. She had her own job. She was very independent. Completely free. She had many opportunities to have told the police or to have told any individual out there that he was doing anything that would be considered inappropriate to her," he said.
When asked to explain how the relationship began in 2004, Frisco said he has not yet seen the prosecutors’ evidence and he’s still filling in the gaps with his client.
"I don’t have all the facts," said Frisco. "I’m not going to know all the facts basically because my Spanish is limited, I haven’t had the chance to talk to him as long as I would like."
Still, Frisco maintained that Garcia "never prevented her from leaving. Even at fifteen."
He described Garcia as "quiet, very surprised, doesn’t understand what is going on," adding that Garcia’s "mouth goes open wide when I tell him what the accusations...are."
A spokeswoman for the Orange County DA's office insisted that this is a case of kidnapping.
"He gave her papers to change her identity, he convinced her that her family was no longer looking for her, and didn’t care about her and that she had nowhere to go," said DA spokeswoman Farrah Emami.
Emami said she did not know whether Garcia locked the young woman up or to what extent she had freedom of movement.
"The defendant is accused of keeping a very watchful eye on her," she said.
"This is a victim who was kidnapped at 15 years old and convinced that she had no one to turn to," said Emami. "She was told that he was her only ally, so over the course of many, many years, maybe her freedoms did increase but she was still mentally his captive."
Also Thursday, a Santa Ana police official said the young woman's mother had persuaded her to go to the authorities after they reunited.
Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said Thursday that the woman got in touch with her mother after connecting with her sister on Facebook to wish her a happy birthday.
Bertagna said the mother showed the daughter news articles written at the time of her disappearance to prove that she had gone to the police and filed a missing persons report.
This story has been updated.