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Teen girl held as sex slave in motor home

September 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Authorities raided a motor home in the Moorpark area on Wednesday, where a 13-year old girl was reportedly being held prisoner as a sex slave.The girl's alleged captor is behind bars Wednesday, held on a $1-million bail. Investigators say the girl was a "psychological" prisoner.

Detectives say the girl knew the man because her mother once had a relationship with him, but they are also saying she wasn't a runaway, and she was not a kidnapping victim. But detectives say she was the victim of sexual crimes that spanned several months.

The rolling hills near Moorpark are peppered with green orchards in peaceful remote areas. It's in a setting like this that investigators say 46-year-old Shawn Barth held a 13-year-old girl as a sex slave, living inside a motor home about a mile off of rural Hitch Blvd.

"She was sexually assaulted repeatedly, we believe at least once a day," said Ventura County Sheriff's Detective Eric Buschow. "At times, it was reported to us, that at one point, five to six times in one day."

Despite that unrelenting abuse, detectives say the girl never reported it, even though Barth allowed her to attend school. They say she was too terrified.

But Moorpark Unified School District workers making a routine call to the girl's former school in Yucaipa learned of a restraining order against Barth, concerning the girl's family.

Investigators removed the girl and arrested Barth, who they describe as a possible sociopath.

"It amazes me that people could even do something like this," said Darci James, who lives just down the street from where Barth had his motor home parked. As a mother of two, she said she was instantly horrified when she heard the accusations.

"It's horrific, absolutely scary, horrible," said James. "So many kids in our neighborhood."

Barth may be in custody, his truck and motor home impounded, but Sheriff's detectives say that the case may be far from over. Barth, they fear, may have other victims who have not come forward.

"Mr. Barth and the victim have traveled all over various parts of Southern California in the motor home in which they were living," said Ventura County Sheriff's Dept. Captain Ron Nelson. "And we believe there may be additional victims and potential witnesses to these crimes."

Detectives say that the girl's mother and another adult woman are being treated as witnesses, but they are not saying how that girl ended up living with Barth instead of with the mother.

If convicted, Barth faces the possibility of life in prison.

Authorities hope the picture released by the Sheriff's department will spark someone to call with information.

If you have any information, you should call the Ventura County Sheriff's Department at (805) 494-8201.

 

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