COURT WATCH: Kidnapping Charges Disputed by Alleged Victim

By Ivan Villegas and Holly Werris 

MODESTO, CA – Judge Carrie Stephens, during an arraignment hearing in Stanislaus County Superior Court here this week, issued a criminal protective order for the victim of an alleged kidnapping case – despite the victim’s assertions that she was never kidnapped

The accused was charged with felony and misdemeanor domestic violence, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

Defense attorney, Ronald Laforce, at the beginning of the hearing, requested that bail, set at $175,000, be removed and the accused be released on his own recognizance.

The victim, Laforce explained, reportedly “doesn’t feel that she was kidnapped” and “doesn’t want a restraining order.”

Laforce clarified that the felony charges were never reported by the victim to the police and were only reported after a second incident had occurred.

The victim herself was unaware that any charges had been filed. Judge Stephens reviewed the arrest warrant, commenting at the beginning of the report there were accusations of violence from the victim, although the victim already began to recant.

District Attorney Vita Palazuelos opposed the defense request to reduce bail, arguing the domestic violence charge warranted both bail and a criminal protective order.

Judge Stephens then invited the victim to speak.

The victim repeatedly stated she was not afraid of the accused and added, “the whole kidnapping thing? I never said that.” The victim explained that her sister was severely ill and she herself was unemployed at the time.

She argued that she and the accused had had a dating relationship during which he would give her money. When she became aware the accused had a similar relationship with another woman, an argument broke out. However, the victim never alleged she was kidnapped.

“I feel horrible that somebody would put extra charges based on things I never said,” said the victim. “If he kidnapped me, why would he stop at my house?”

Near the end of her testimony, Judge Stephens pressed the issue of domestic violence. The victim said that the accused had hit her, at which point Judge Stephens thanked her and declared she was ready to make a decision.

Judge Stephens sided with the prosecution, keeping bail but reducing it to $25,000 on the basis of domestic violence charge, and issued a criminal protective order.

A preliminary hearing for the case was set for Aug. 31, barring a settlement between the prosecution and defense beforehand.

About The Author

Ivan Villegas (he/him) is a criminal justice graduate from CSU Sacramento. He wishes to continue his studies in law school starting in fall 2023. He is interested in immigration and international law, and hopes to use his degree for a career as an immigration attorney.

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