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Teen girl held captive in box, assaulted repeatedly

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Authorities revealed new details about a marijuana farm where a 15-year-old girl was allegedly held captive in a metal box.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement released this weekend that the girl was sexually assaulted repeatedly during her captivity.

Two suspects were arrested on suspicion of unlawful intercourse with a minor under 16 years of age, oral copulation, sodomy, false imprisonment and molestation, according to the statement.

Deputies also found numerous weapons.

“This has been the largest and most sophisticated bulk of weapons seized in recent Lake County sheriff’s office history,” the Sheriff’s Department said.

The suspects — Ryan Alan Balletto, 30, and Patrick Steven Pearmain, 25 — face numerous felony charges. The Los Angeles Police Department arrested a third man, Eric Edgar, on suspicion of sexual assault.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents had been investigating the 680-acre property owned by Balletto since December 2011, court documents showed.

The girl was reported missing April 2 from a San Fernando Valley home, according to the LAPD. Cmdr. Andy Smith said detectives believe she was living on the streets of Hollywood when she came in contact with Balletto.

A few weeks later, LAPD detectives received a tip that the girl was being held inside some kind of box at an undisclosed location in Northern California. The detectives eventually learned that she was in Lake County with Balletto and informed authorities there.

But before Lake County sheriff’s officials could raid Balletto’s property, they got a call from the girl, records show. She told them she was fine and staying with Balletto. A detective traced the call to a hotel, and authorities there found her in a room with Pearmain.

Authorities say they collected a bag full of marijuana, prescription drugs, condoms and a pregnancy test from the hotel room. Pearmain also had a notebook on him that had an apparent script for the girl to read to police over the phone, authorities say.

Then authorities raided the marijuana farm. “It was kind of like opening Pandora’s box,” said Lake County sheriff’s Sgt. Dennis Ostini.

They said they found 1,200 marijuana plants, guns and other items. But the most horrifying discovery was the metal box the girl told authorities she was kept in. She told police the men made her stay in it on two occasions for a total of three days, court records show.

Read more at latimes.com

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