Church kid­nap case dropped

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Tony Perry tony.perry@latimes.com

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.”

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