California kidnap victim faces credibility test

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In this Tuesday, May 20, 2014, photo released by the Santa Ana Police Department, shows suspect Isidro Garcia, age 41 of Bell Gardens, Calif. who was arrested in Santa Ana, Calif. Garcia allegedly kidnapped a 15-year-old girl in Santa Ana in 2004 then repeatedly physically and sexually assaulted her over the course of 10 years. He was booked for kidnap for rape, and lewd acts with a minor and false Imprisonment. (AP Photo/Santa Ana Police Department)

In this Tuesday, May 20, 2014, photo released by the Santa Ana Police Department, shows suspect Isidro Garcia, age 41 of Bell Gardens, Calif. who was arrested in Santa Ana, Calif. Garcia allegedly kidnapped a 15-year-old girl in Santa Ana in 2004 then repeatedly physically and sexually assaulted her over the course of 10 years. He was booked for kidnap for rape, and lewd acts with a minor and false Imprisonment. (AP Photo/Santa Ana Police Department)

In this video image, Isidro Medrano Garcia, 42, talks with his Defense attorney Charles Frisco as he appears before Judge Craig Robison Thursday, May 22, 2014 during his arraignment at the Orange County jail in Santa Ana, Calif. Prosecutors on Thursday filed five felony charges against Garcia, including rape and kidnapping to commit a sexual offense. He did not enter a plea, and his arraignment was continued until June. He is being held on $1 million bail. (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Ken Steinhardt) MAGS OUT; LOS ANGELES TIMES OUT

Frank Tamayo, a manager at an apartment building where suspect Isidro Garcia lived, leans on the fence as he talks with a man from the neighborhood on Thursday, May 22, 2014, in Bell Gardens, Calif. A woman who disappeared a decade ago as a 15-year-old reunited recently with her mother, who convinced her to go to authorities to report that she had been kidnapped and raped by Garcia who is now her husband and father of her daughter. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Rita Salazar, who lives across the street from an apartment building where suspect Isidro Garcia lived, stands in her garden on Thursday, May 22, 2014, in Bell Gardens, Calif. A woman who disappeared a decade ago as a 15-year-old reunited recently with her mother, who convinced her to go to authorities to report that she had been kidnapped and raped by Garcia who is now her husband and father of her daughter. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A group of women from the neighborhood chat near an apartment building where suspect Isidro Garcia lived on Thursday, May 22, 2014, in Bell Gardens, Calif. A woman who disappeared a decade ago as a 15-year-old reunited recently with her mother, who convinced her to go to authorities to report that she had been kidnapped and raped by Garcia who is now her husband and father of her daughter. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

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SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — Neighbors say Isidro Garcia is a doting father, loyal husband and good provider for his family. That doesn’t mean he’s not all the things prosecutors say he is: an abusive rapist who kidnapped a 15-year-old girl and eventually made her his wife.

The narrative that unfolded around the couple this week in a Los Angeles suburb spans a decade, but the criminal case against Garcia centers on a three-month period when he is accused of grooming the teen through sexual abuse and taking her from her Santa Ana home.

Authorities focused on the early allegations of abuse because they occurred in the county and are not subject to a statute of limitations, according to Whitney Bokosky, deputy district attorney for Orange County. She said the charges may be amended or expanded as the case moves forward.

“Nobody is saying this girl was tied up in some basement somewhere. This was more of a mental kind of prison she was living in,” Bokosky said.

Garcia, 41, is charged with rape, kidnapping and three counts of lewd acts on a child dating back to 2004.

A lawyer for Garcia, who is being held on $1 million bail, said the woman lied about being abused because the couple is separating.

Police say Garcia, who had been dating the girl’s mother, drugged and abducted the victim, telling her that her family wasn’t looking for her and that if she contacted authorities, she would be deported. In 2007, he forced her to marry and fathered a daughter, now 3, with her, police said.

Garcia was arrested Monday after the woman, now 25, went two blocks from her apartment to a police station in Los Angeles County’s Bell Gardens and accused him of domestic violence. Authorities then connected her to a 2004 missing person report filed by her mother. Police have not identified the woman.

The story has transfixed many who wonder how the woman could keep quiet for so long, and it prompted comparisons to other high-profile kidnappings, including one involving three women who were locked up in Cleveland and broke free after about a decade.

While police said Garcia initially locked up the woman, she later got a job, had her own car and neighbors said they seemed like a loving couple.

Steve Meister, a criminal defense attorney and former Los Angeles County prosecutor, said the lack of charges stemming from the years the woman lived with Garcia and neighbors’ reports that she appeared happy highlight potential challenges to her credibility.

“In any case, but especially a sexual assault case, you can’t pick and choose what of the victim’s story you want to believe. You either believe them or you don’t,” Meister said. “That’s how district attorneys should analyze it because that is how a jury is going to see it.”

Lawrence Rosenthal, a professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, said he believes the victim’s age and the statute of limitations influenced how prosecutors approached the case. Some prosecutors might have pursued additional rape charges, he said, but not all,

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