Teenage girl drugged, raped
Two people were arrested, and more could follow, in a Linda sex abuse case involving a local 15-year-old runaway girl allegedly assaulted by several men, Yuba County District Attorney Pat McGrath said.
Gerardo Razo Bernal, 28, and Pasqual Gomez, 50, both of the 1900 block of Country Club Court, Linda, were arrested Wednesday at 10 p.m. at the Yuba County Sheriff's Department on suspicion of lewd acts on a child 14 or 15 years old.
Both were still in custody Friday afternoon on $100,000 bail each.
"It's really kind of an appalling situation," McGrath said Friday. "This is one of those that is fairly disgusting. She was being passed from people to people. We know that when we recovered her, she was exhausted and she was in kind of bad shape."
An anonymous caller notified the Sheriff's Department on Tuesday to report that a girl was being abused, McGrath said. Deputies who went to the complex found the girl and rescued her from the conditions, he said.
McGrath said the victim received a physical examination but was not hospitalized. She was reunited with her family Tuesday. It doesn't appear she was beaten, McGrath said, but she has gaps in her memory.
Investigators have interviewed the girl, who provided descriptions and identifying features of Gomez and Bernal, McGrath said. Investigators learned that she was drugged for days spanning July 8 to 12.
On Wednesday, armed with a search warrant, investigators from the District Attorney's office, along with probation and welfare fraud investigators and sheriff's deputies served a warrant on four residences in the Country Club Court complex, McGrath said.
During the time the alleged crimes took place, the victim was too drugged to put up much resistance, he said.
"This is a tragic case," said Yuba County Sheriff Virginia Black. "Her life will be forever changed. She will never forget what happened. That's the tragedy."
The District Attorney's office took over the investigation because the Sheriff's Department's resources are strained due to handling five ongoing homicide cases.
"lt's really been gratifying to see how well the two departments have blended together to work the case," Black said.
The men assaulting the drugged victim not care whether she was fed, clothed or sheltered, McGrath said. He said investigators are particularly interested in finding these people.
Anyone with information on the crime should call the Yuba County District Attorney's office at 749-7770 and ask for investigator Mary Barr.
McGrath had no information on when the girl ran away or how long she had been missing.
The girl met those who controlled her through acquaintances of her friends and soon landed in the situation from which she was rescued, McGrath said.
McGrath said the office received great cooperation from residents in the complex who called the department and shared information they knew on the case.
"Really, hats off to folks in that area who chose to contact us," he said. "People living in the area were as appalled as we were."
Black had a special thanks to the anonymous caller who reported the incident.
"God bless the person who made the phone call," she said. "He probably saved that girl's life."
Appeal-Democrat reporter Daniel Witter can be reached at 749-4712. You may e-mail him at email@example.com.