Wed | Aug 16, 2017

Three men arrested in California kidnapping, sexual assault case

Published:Friday | February 27, 2015 | 2:00 AM
Law-enforcement officers conduct an investigation at a property where a woman claimed that she was kidnapped, held captive, beaten, and sexually abused for three weeks in Santa Rosa, California.

CALIFORNIA (AP):

Three men were arrested in the case of a woman who reported being held captive and sexually abused for almost two months, authorities said.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office said investigators believe Jose Angel Barajas-Mireles masterminded the kidnapping of the 22-year-old woman, who was held against her will in a rural home in Santa Rosa, about 50 miles (80 kilometres) north of San Francisco, since the holidays. Authorities initially said she had been held captive for three weeks.

THE ESCAPE

She escaped last week after noticing an open door, and went to police.

Barajas-Mireles, 34, is also responsible for the sexual abuse and most of the physical assaults, investigators said.

Barajas-Mireles has been charged with aggravated sodomy, aggravated oral copulation, and aggravated rape. His bail was set at $6 million dollars, official said on Wednesday.

Jaime Gomez Cisneros of Watsonville and Guillermo Crestino Avina of Santa Rosa were responsible for guarding the victim and preventing her from leaving the compound, the office said. Each was charged with false imprisonment and being an accessory.

The suspects were arrested when they went to the sheriff's office to retrieve property that was seized during the investigation, authorities said.

The woman initially told police she had been randomly kidnapped at gunpoint from the neighbourhood where she lived. But none of the men were charged with kidnapping or firearms violations.

"Out of an overwhelming sense of fear of retaliation coupled with the traumatic events she endured, she initially stated to law enforcement that she had been kidnapped at gunpoint," the office said.