VISTA (CNS) - An Oceanside couple accused of beating and sexually abusing a 12-year-old Mexican girl smuggled into the country on a promise of a better life pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 26 counts each of aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
Inez Martinez Garcia, 43, and her husband, 45-year-old Marcial Garcia Hernandez, were ordered held on $2 million bail apiece. Their arrests last month were the result of a two-and-a-half-year "cold case" investigation into the victim's allegations, sheriff's Sgt. Joe Mata said.
Each defendant faces up to 390 years to life in prison if convicted, said prosecutor Gretchen Means.
The girl, now an adult, told investigators she was brought into the United States at age 12 with promises of a better life and education. However, she alleged that when she arrived at the suspects' household, she was forced to care for their three young children and cook and clean their house under the threat of violence, including beatings, Mata said.
The alleged victim was also forced to have sex with Hernandez over a 21-month period, Mata said. When she refused to have sex or did not complete her assigned tasks in a timely or correct manner, she was beaten, he said.
At one point, the victim had to lie about her age to work at a restaurant and Garcia allegedly took her wages, Mata said. She was later forced to have sex with older men for money, Mata said.
The victim was eventually placed in protective custody after she was allegedly beaten by Garcia and the police were called. She was then reunited with her family in Mexico.
The case was suspended while the victim was in Mexico. But it was reopened when she returned to the United States and came forward with her story, Mata said.
The North County Human Trafficking Task Force, along with Vista sheriff's deputies, Homeland Security investigators and Oceanside police, arrested Garcia and Hernandez.
The defendants will be back in court Feb. 5 for a readiness conference and Feb. 20 for a preliminary hearing,
A very special birthday party was held Tuesday as the San Diego Police celebrated 128 years of service.
A 16-year-old girl managed to escape Tuesday when a would-be kidnapper grabbed her and tried to pull her into his vehicle in a parking lot at Southwestern College, authorities reported.
As the school year winds down, a lot of students are getting ready to do some traveling with their families. The Nurse Practitioners at CVS Minute Clinic have a few reminders if you are planning on traveling abroad.
An expedition led in part by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego located a missing World War II bomber off the coast of Papua New Guinea and surveyed another at the bottom of a harbor, it was announced Friday.
It was like a scene right out of John Wayne movie Tuesday in East County.
A bull made a break in the not-so-wide open spaces of San Diego Country Estates.
News 8's Dominic Garcia reports on the bolting bovine and its capture.
Be it ever so humble, there is no place like home. But what if that humble home costs over $10 million? News 8's Steve Price takes a look inside a newly built condo in La Jolla that is breaking some San Diego Real Estate records.
Just about everybody on this planet accepts their lot in life, but deep down dreams of becoming a rock star.