A southern California couple has been arrested on suspicion of 13 felony counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age 14.
San Diego County Sheriff's Department officials suspect Marcial Garcia Hernandez, 45, and Inez Martinez Garcia, 43, of Oceanside, Calif., of keeping a young Mexican immigrant as a sex slave, forcing her into prostitution and beating her severely, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The arrests were the result of a two-and-a-half-year "cold case" investigation into the victim's allegations, Sheriff's Sgt. Joe Mata Mata said, according to KFMB-TV.
The victim, who is now an adult, told investigators she was brought to the U.S. when she was 12 in hopes of a better life and education under the care of the Hernandez family. Once she arrived, she alleges that the suspects forced her to care for the couple's three young children, cook and clean the house under the threat of violence, the station reported.
The victim also told authorites that she was forced to have sex with Marciel Hernandez and was beaten when she refused, the North County Times reported. She was also forced to lie about her age in order to get a job at a nearby restaurant and give her wages to Inez Garcia.
Case investigator George Crysler told the paper that the couple also forced the victim to have sex with other older men “for monetary purposes.”
The victim was able to be rescued after she was severely beaten and authorities were notified, according to UT San Diego. She was placed in protective custody before being reunited with her family in Mexico.
The couple was arrested Thursday and taken into custody by the Sheriff’s Vista COPPS Unit task force, Homeland Security investigators, and Oceanside police, KNSD-TV reported. They are scheduled to appear in court on Monday, Dec. 3.