A Southern California man accused of kidnapping a woman when she was 15 and of holding her captive and abusing her for 10 years was charged Thursday, a day after word of his arrest stunned neighbors.
Isidro Medrano Garcia, 42, of Bell Gardens, faces 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. Prosecutors requested that he be held on $1 million bail.
His arraignment was scheduled for Thursday but postponed until June 9. If convicted on all counts, Garcia faces a maximum sentence of 19 years to life in state prison.
Garcia's lawyer disputed his accuser's account of the past decade.
"She has her own motives for making something like this up," his lawyer Charles Frisco said. "There's no indication of any physical or mental abuse."
Garcia was arrested Tuesday, a decade after he was introduced to the alleged victim, whose mother he was dating and living with at the time in Santa Ana.
In August 2004, authorities received a domestic violence report involving the woman's mother and Garcia, but the case could not be proven at that time, prosecutors said.
Garcia abducted the teen -- a recent immigrant at the time -- after the report, taking her to a house in Compton, about 25 miles from the family's home in Santa Ana, according to prosecutors. According to Santa Ana detectives, Garcia moved the teenager to four cities over that period, changing her name and even faking documents so he could force her into marriage.
"Between August 2004 and April 2014, Garcia is accused of controlling Jane Doe by telling her that her family did not want her and was not looking for her," the district attorney's office said in a statement. "He is accused of threatening the victim that if she called the police to report him, she would get in trouble for using a false identity. Over the years, he is accused of keeping a close eye on her, securing a job for Jane Doe where he worked, and not letting her out of his sight."
- Abduction Arrest: Timeline, Map
He also used the threat of deportation to prevent her from escaping, 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.
A missing person report was filed in 2004 -- the year of the alleged kidnapping, according to prosecutors.
He allegedly forced the woman into marriage in 2007 and had a child with her in 2012. The child remains in the custody of the woman, identified by prosecutors by Jane Doe.
It was a connection with her sister via Facebook that eventually led the victim to contact law enforcement agents, prosecutors said. The woman met with her family, then contacted authorities, according to the District Attorney's office.
"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."
Neighbors said the man they knew as Tomas Medrano seemed like a devoted family man. A nanny who cared for the child said the two appeared to be "the perfect couple," held parties on their Bell Gardens patio and doted on their 3-year-old daughter.
But investigators said the woman "saw no way out" and tried twice to escape, but was re-captured by Garcia and severely beaten.