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Minnesota girl held 29 days, tied up and raped, prosecutor says

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 8, 2017

By Amy Forliti Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS – A Minnesota teenager was held captive for 29 days, repeatedly raped, locked in a closet and bound by zip ties before she escaped and swam across a lake to safety, according to criminal charges filed Thursday against three men.

At one point, the 15-year-old girl was told to get into a duffel bag and was loaded in the back of a truck after police came knocking on the door of the mobile home where she was being held, the complaint said. She was moved in the bag to another location.

She escaped Tuesday from an abandoned home in rural, western Minnesota after the men left her alone for the first time in nearly a month. She knocked on nearby doors, then swam across part of a lake – losing her pants and shoes in the water – and flagged down a farmer for help.

Three men were charged Thursday with multiple counts. Thomas Barker, 32, of Carlos, Minnesota, was charged with kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct and false imprisonment. Steven Powers, 20, of Benson, Minnesota, was charged with kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct and false imprisonment. Joshua Holby, 31, of Carlos, was charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment.

According to the criminal complaint, Barker kidnapped the girl from her home in Alexandria, about 133 miles northwest of Minneapolis, on Aug. 8 by tricking her into thinking he needed her to talk to his son, who was misbehaving. The girl knew Barker as her friend’s dad, so she agreed to help.

Prosecutors say Barker drove the girl to his mobile home in Carlos, about 9 miles away, restrained her and began repeatedly sexually assaulting her, brandishing a firearm and threatening to kill her.

The girl told police that shortly after her abduction, Barker put her in a bathtub while she was restrained with zip ties and tried to drown her, but she fought back. She told police that in another incident, a rope or cord was placed around her neck and she was required to stand on a bucket, the complaint said.

“She stated that Holby then forced her off of the bucket and she described a period in which she could not breathe,” the complaint said. She said Powers also forced her to snort a line of “white powder.”

The criminal complaint says Powers arrived at the home about two weeks into the girl’s abduction and was told not to go into Barker’s room when Barker and Holby left the residence. But Powers became curious and went into the bedroom and found the girl in the locked closet.

“Powers did not free (her), nor did he contact law enforcement,” the complaint said.

The Associated Press generally does not name victims of sexual assault and is not naming the girl. She was reunited with her family Tuesday, and the family has asked for privacy.

A message left with an attorney for Barker and Holby was not immediately returned. The name of Powers’ attorney was not immediately available.

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