LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Three defendants accused of holding two teens captive were placed in handcuffs in a courtroom on Monday.
Clark County District Court Judge Tierra Jones set bail for Addy Gonzales at $75,000, Daniel Omezcua at $25,000 and Maria Pasarin at $10,000.
The defendants’ attorneys argued that the trio is not a flight risk or danger to the community.
Judge Jones disagreed and said that she believes that they are a danger to the community. She referred to evidence in the case including body camera video from inside the North Las Vegas home where one of the alleged victims, a teen girl was rescued by police last November.
“It is very, very concerning to this court,” Judge Jones said.
The trio kept Gonzales’ adopted niece and nephew locked up in their North Las Vegas home for extended periods of time, according to Clark County prosecutors.
Neighbors called police after the teen girl was seen trying to escape from the second-floor window to get water last November. Video showed the girl on a ladder.
The teen and her brother testified in front of the grand jury that they were kept locked in the garage or bedroom without food or water and suffered physical abuse at the hands of Gonzales.
“It is something that you only see on TV,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Dena Rinetti said.
The teen girl said that she was held captive for three to four months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Police found her in a room with deadbolts on both sides, and with buckets for bathroom use.
“This case is bone-chilling. It is disturbing,” Rinetti said. “The fact that these two children survived the systematic abuse for years is just unfathomable.”
Defense attorneys for the trio requested that they remain released on their own recognizance and pointed out that they have shown up for all of their court hearings.
John Turco who represents Gonzales told Judge Jones that the alleged victims had the opportunity to previously ask for help.
“Even the least sophisticated individual nowadays at that age realizes there’s mandatory reporters. All you have to do is tell the teacher, a police officer, a psychologist,” Turco said. “Think about all the ways that sexual assault with a minor cases are disclosed, 8 out of 10 are through the school.”
Rinetti responded. “I take great issue with Mr. Turco’s comments that somehow it was on the onus of the victims to come forward. They were psychologically and physically abused for years,” she said. “What are children supposed to do? They were wards of the state and given over to Miss Gonzales. That’s the person that they were supposed to rely on. That was supposed to be their safety net.”
Rinetti also said that Gonzales forced the teens to enlist in the military, the U.S. Army for the teen boy who is now an adult and the U.S. Navy for the teen girl. They are both no longer enlisted, according to Rinetti.
Because of the teen boy’s age, he is no longer in the child welfare system, Rinetti said. The teen girl is in protective custody and attending high school.
Gonzales has a 13-year-old son who has been removed from her care. Turco said that this is temporary. If Gonzales posts bail, she is ordered to have no contact with her son.
Photos from inside the home revealed that Gonzales’s son was treated differently from the two alleged victims. The son also testified in front of the grand jury that the alleged victims were also treated well. Prosecutors argued that his testimony was influenced by the defendants.
Gonzales has been indicted on 23 felony counts of child abuse, neglect or endangerment, one count of conspiracy to commit abuse, and two counts of false imprisonment. Omezcua and Pasarin have been indicted on one count of conspiracy child abuse, two counts of false imprisonment and eleven counts of felony child abuse.
All three defendants pleaded not guilty.
Pasarin was not required to be booked into the Clark County Detention Center, like Gonzales and Omezcua. After her attorney argued that she has health issues, she was given at least 24 hours to post bond, according to court staff.
Gonzales has been a family learning advocate at the Clark County School District since 2005. She is now suspended on unpaid leave, according to a district spokesperson. The teen girl testified that her aunt most recently worked at Ruby Thomas Elementary School.
If you suspect child abuse or neglect, you are urged to report it. More information can be found here.