It was a harrowing tale that a 22-year-old Baltimore woman--described as a naive, All-American girl--told Los Angeles police. She said she was lured to a Studio City apartment, where she was forced at gunpoint to become a prostitute.
But authorities are hesitant to file charges for lack of corroborating evidence.
"We still are trying to verify these things," said Detective Mike Pavelka. "And until we are able to do that, we are only going on what we were told by her.
"In these types of cases, many times it comes down to the victim's word against the suspects'."
The woman went to police last Friday, saying she had escaped after being held captive and terrorized for four days.
Three suspects--Charles Primus, 24, Darryl Williams, 29, and Jennifer Tedesco, 24--were arrested Saturday outside Tedesco's apartment in the 4200 block of Coldwater Canyon Avenue in Studio City, Pavelka said.
Only Primus, who was held on suspicion of rape and pimping, remained in custody Thursday. Williams was freed on $6,000 bail; Tedesco was released without bail, pending further investigation, Pavelka said. Williams and Tedesco had been arrested on suspicion of kidnaping.
No Charges Filed
A fourth person, Frances Flannigan, 20, also was arrested at the apartment. However, Pavelka said, Flannigan was arrested for outstanding warrants involving prostitution charges and was not believed to have been involved in the alleged kidnaping.
No charges have been filed against Primus, Williams and Tedesco because "naturally the three suspects have a different version of the story," Pavelka said. He refused to discuss their version.
The woman who went to police is pretty, naive and an "All-American" type, Pavelka said. She has since returned to her parents in Baltimore, he said.
Before she left, she told authorities that her troubles began when she befriended Tedesco after the two met at Venice Beach on Aug. 19.
She told investigators that she had recently moved to Los Angeles and that Tedesco offered to share her apartment. The woman said she moved that day into the Studio City apartment, where there were two men "who immediately locked a double-cylinder dead-bolt lock behind her," Pavelka said.
She said "one of these individuals, Mr. Primus, raped her at gunpoint and forced her into acts of prostitution," Pavelka said.
Pavelka said the suspects were operating an out-call prostitution ring, for which they took out an ad in sexually oriented newspapers, giving the telephone number of the Studio City apartment.
The woman said that at one point she was taken to another location at gunpoint and "told that, if she did not go up and complete this act of prostitution, neither she nor the customer would come out alive," the detective said.
"She's really a scared young girl," he said. "I really think she came out here to the big city and, being very naive, was conned into this situation."
She told authorities that she escaped last Friday when she jumped out of a car driven by one of her captors when it stopped at an intersection.
Pavelka said he has been holding daily discussions with officials of the district attorney's office, who said charges cannot be filed without more evidence.
"What we are trying to do is go out and interview anybody we can," he said. "We're planning on working on this into the evening to wrap this thing up if we can."