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California man charged with holding girl 10 years pleads not guilty

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Southern California man accused of abducting a 15-year-old girl and holding her captive for a decade of physical and sexual abuse pleaded not guilty on Monday to rape and kidnapping charges and was ordered to remain jailed on $1 million bond.

Isidro Garcia, 41, said little during his arraignment before an Orange County Superior Court judge in Santa Ana, except to indicate in Spanish through an interpreter that he understood the proceedings and was in agreement with his attorney.

Defense lawyer Charles Frisco Jr entered a not guilty plea on his client's behalf to the charges, including rape, lewd acts on a minor and kidnapping. Garcia was ordered to return to court for a pretrial hearing on July 14.

Police say his accuser, now 25, told detectives she endured 10 years of physical and sexual abuse after being abducted by Garcia, her mother's live-in boyfriend at the time, from the family's suburban Santa Ana home in 2004.

The woman, who has not been publicly identified, was forced into marriage in 2007 and bore Garcia a daughter in 2012, according to police. She made her escape by contacting authorities last month after reaching out to her sister through Facebook, police said.

Frisco has said Garcia and his accuser were a couple, insisted that he "treated her like a queen" and suggested her allegations were prompted by marital discord.

Since Garcia's arrest, neighbors who lived near his home in the community of Bell Gardens told local media they were shocked by the case and said the woman never appeared to be in distress.

Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse on Monday, Frisco again raised questions about the veracity of the accusations against his client.

"Why is it that one person hasn't come forward to corroborate her story?" he asked, adding, "It's not for me to prove that she's lying. It's up to the district attorney to prove beyond a reasonable doubt ... the truth of the charge."

Prosecutors have said the charges stem from crimes committed a decade ago, when the victim was first abducted.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jim Loney)

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