A jury has found a man guilty of committing lewd acts on a 15-year-old girl who later married him, had his child and stayed with him for a decade after she disappeared from her mother's California home
It was a case that made headlines: A woman who disappeared a decade earlier at age 15 resurfaced and said her current husband had actually abducted her, raped her and forced her to marry him.
But in a trial, the husband's attorney claimed the truth was far more nuanced — and much less damning.
Isidro Garcia's attorney showed photos of his client, now 42, and the woman at their wedding and smiling with their young daughter, who was conceived using fertility treatments.
On Friday, a jury deadlocked on the most serious charge of rape and acquitted Garcia of kidnapping. They convicted him of lewd acts with a minor after his attorney acknowledged he had an inappropriate relationship with the girl when she was a teen.
Garcia at first rested his head on the table as the verdict was read and later fell to his knees and repeatedly said "Gracias!" while raising his hands to the ceiling.
Outside court, several jurors said they were deeply divided and troubled by the difference between the alleged victim's account and Garcia's account. At least two jurors said they were haunted by the deadlock on the rape charge, while the jury forewoman said she and others felt the alleged victim lied on the witness stand.
Garcia faces a maximum of four years and four months, but could receive only probation at sentencing next month with credit for two years of time served. The rape count was dismissed Friday.
"I'm disappointed. I knew that this was a difficult case when I filed it, but I really did believe (the alleged victim), and I felt I could prove it," prosecutor Whitney Bokosky said.
The case drew national attention in May 2014 after the woman contacted her sister on Facebook and said she wanted to reunite.