A man accused of kidnapping his girlfriend's 15-year-old daughter from Santa Ana 10 years ago pleaded not guilty to multiple charges Monday in an Orange County Superior Court.
Isidro Medrano Garcia is charged with kidnapping, rape and three counts of lewd acts on a minor. He appeared in court wearing a jail-issued orange jumpsuit and spoke through a translator only to say, "Yes," when asked if he understood the proceedings.
Several neighbors who lived near Garcia and the alleged victim in Bell Gardens came to court to show support for Garcia.
"What she's saying is a lie," said Jose Polanco. "She was a free woman."
Polanco and other neighbors have rallied to Garcia's side, saying they seemed a happy couple who threw parties in the neighborhood and took trips to Disneyland.
The two eventually married and had a child together a few years ago.
But prosecutors paint a very different picture of a man who preyed on a young girl, made her believe her family no longer wanted her and never let her out of his site.
Prosecutors say Garcia began grooming the girl by buying her gifts and taking her side in arguments soon after she arrived in Santa Ana from Mexico to reunite with her mother at the age of 14.
When she turned 15, they say, he raped her and then repeatedly sexually assaulted her before taking her from her home. The victim has not been named.
Defense attorney Charles Frisco has said Garcia never held the girl against her will. If convicted, Garcia faces up to 19 years in prison. His bail is set at $1 million.