Culver City man pleads not guilty to repeatedly raping 15-year-old girl
A Culver City man was charged Thursday with repeatedly raping a 15-year-old girl whom prosecutors allege he kept in his home for three weeks.
Samuel Robert Duran Jr., 33, pleaded not guilty to a dozen counts, including multiple counts of rape and forced penetration, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. Prosecutors also allege that he tied and bound the girl.
If convicted of the charges, prosecutors said, Duran faces 15 years to life in prison.
A three-week search for the girl ended Monday, when detectives traced a phone call she had made and found her at Duran’s home. The girl had managed to call her mother, the mother told The Times this week. The call disconnected, but the number appeared on the mother’s phone.
Detectives were able to link that phone number to Duran’s house, the mother said.
The Times previously named the girl in reporting her disappearance. Since Duran has been charged with rape, The Times is adhering to its policy of not identifying victims of alleged sexual assault.
She was the subject of an intensive search by Los Angeles police and the FBI, in cooperation with her family, and those efforts received widespread coverage by the media, including The Times. Her mother set up a Facebook page asking for the public’s help in finding the teenager, and missing-child groups distributed fliers.
The girl disappeared the night of March 24, her mother said, after the two had a disagreement over the teenager’s cellphone. The mother said her daughter had autism and other cognitive issues that make her quick to anger and prone to impulsive behavior.
It was still unclear how the girl met Duran. Law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation but not authorized to speak about it publicly said that the girl initially went with Duran willingly, which is why authorities did not pursue a kidnapping charge.
The girl told her mother that Duran had kept her in a room at the house and rarely let her out, the mother told The Times. She also told her mother that Duran threatened her family’s safety if she tried to escape.
The LAPD’s investigation is ongoing, police said.
Duran was convicted of selling or manufacturing a dangerous weapon in 1999 and received 10 days in jail and three years’ probation, according to court records and the district attorney’s office. Records also showed that he was charged with possession of marijuana in Orange County in 2005.
If convicted of the charges filed Thursday, Duran would face 15 years to life in prison, prosecutors said. Duran — whose bail was raised from $8 million to $12 million — is due back in court May 13.
Times staff writer Sandy Banks contributed to this report.
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