YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Key Witness in Sex-Kidnap Case Surfaces, Set to Testify

January 23, 1986|LARRY GORDON | Times Staff Writer

Authorities preparing to try an unusual sexual kidnap case got a break last week when the victim of the alleged attack, a prostitute missing for several months before being found in a hospital, agreed to testify.

As a result, Paul David Sanchez, 40, of Burbank was arrested again and arraigned Tuesday on additional charges in Pasadena Municipal Court.

When the case began, the identity of the purported victim was unknown, although witnesses said they had seen Sanchez pushing a partly naked woman into his van on July 15.

The 23-year-old woman was found after a friend read a newspaper article about the case and told the district attorney's office that the woman was a patient at a drug rehabilitation program at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

Located at the hospital, the admitted prostitute subsequently identified Sanchez from a photo lineup as the man who had picked her up in Hollywood and kept her handcuffed in his van for 15 hours beginning the afternoon of July 14, according to Glendale police detectives who are handling the case.

"She was too upset and too afraid to go to police before that," Detective Ruth Feldman said. The detective stressed that the woman's past drug use had nothing to do with the case. "She was well aware of what was going on at the time. She was not imagining things," Feldman said.

Similar Incident

Another acknowledged prostitute had agreed to testify against Sanchez in a similar incident that allegedly took place 10 days earlier. In that case, the woman--handcuffed and nude except for a blue cap over her face--escaped from a van, later identified as Sanchez's, on San Fernando Road in Glendale near the factory where Sanchez worked, police said. A motorist helped the 26-year-old woman and called police.

That prostitute later said Sanchez picked her up in Hollywood and repeatedly raped her at knifepoint and gunpoint.

In the later attack, witnesses on July 15 saw a handcuffed and partly nude woman trying to escape from the van, which was parked outside the factory. In a preliminary hearing, Sanchez admitted pushing the woman back into the van and driving her to Griffith Park, where he said he dropped her off. He said she was a prostitute whom he had picked up and was helping through the trauma of drug withdrawal.

Sanchez was arrested in August and charged in both incidents. Based on witnesses's accounts of the purported escape attempt on July 15, a Pasadena municipal judge upheld charges of kidnaping and false imprisonment of the 23-year-old woman, even though she had not been identified or found by then. The district attorney's office said it was very unusual for a judge to uphold such charges without the victim's identity being known.

Sanchez's attorney, Louis Sanchez, who is not related to the suspect, protested that ruling as unconstitutional, saying it denied his client the right to confront his accuser. The attorney also said all charges should be dismissed because both women had consented to have sex with Paul Sanchez.

Until the tip from the 23-year-old woman's friend, detectives had searched for months for clues to the identity of the woman, whose first name, Paul Sanchez had told them, is Dawn. Meanwhile, they were preparing both cases against him.

"It would have been a real interesting case to try to convict him without testimony," Glendale investigator Jon Perkins said of the second woman. "But don't get me wrong. I'm very glad we found her."

2nd Arrest Warrant Issued

Sanchez, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, was free on a $50,000 bond until Friday night, when another warrant for his arrest was issued that included the woman's identity and additional charges.

Sanchez surrendered to police, Feldman said. An additional bail of $250,000 was set on Tuesday, with a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 31.

The new charges include kidnaping, rape and forced oral copulation. He also faces several similar charges in the earlier incident involving the 26-year-old prostitute.

Los Angeles Times Articles