Church kidnap case dropped
SAN DIEGO — After the supposed victim declined to press charges, San Diego authorities decided not to prosecute three people arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a relative from a religious commune, according to commune leaders.
The Twelve Tribes Community/Church in Vista, in a statement Tuesday, blamed the June 6 incident not on the three people who were arrested but on “so-called cult experts” who had promised to deprogram Robert Martinez, 24, a member of the group for five years.
Without explanation, the San Diego County district attorney’s office announced Monday that it had decided not to file charges in the case.
When the three people were arrested, they said they wanted to prevent Martinez from being brainwashed.
The cult experts are “known to prey on the fears of families of those who get involved in new religious movements,” according to the Twelve Tribes statement.
An unidentified man “assisted with the abduction” but fled before sheriff ’s deputies arrived, according to the statement.
“There were also two other vehicles in our driveway that also seemed to be connected with the incident,” the group said. “This was not just a family affair.”
Martinez has rejoined the Twelve Tribes group, along with his wife, the group said.
Twelve Tribes is a religious community whose members live in a house in Vista that also serves as a church. Others live on a 66acre avocado ranch in Valley Center. The group also runs the Yellow Deli in Vista.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to Robert’s family,” said the Twelve Tribes statement. “We know this must be a painfully difficult time for them.”