Three men have been charged for allegedly kidnapping and then repeatedly raping a 15-year-old Minnesota girl for 29 days. Thomas Jay Barker, Joshnua Lee Holby and Steve Michael Samuel Powers were charged with kidnapping and false imprisonment.
Barker, 32, and Powers, 20, were also charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Barker faces an additional count of second-degree assault too.
The three accused were presented for the first time before the court on Thursday (7 September), where bail amounts were set for them – $2m (£1.51m) for Barker and Power, while $1.5m (£1.1m) for Holby. Their next hearing is scheduled for 18 September.
It was reported that the trio had assaulted the girl many times, raped her and also attempted to drown her in a bathtub.
Police have appreciated the bravery and courage of the teen who, despite suffering so much, did not lose hope and swam across a lake to escape her captivators.
She was reunited with her family on Tuesday (5 September).
"Our community never lost faith. It's a horrific story and a wonderful ending in terms of her survival and courage," Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffles told The Star Tribune.
The girl's mother said her daughter returned home after swimming across the Thompson Lake in Grant County and then running through a field before flagging a farmer for help.
The teenager was last seen on 8 August. She reportedly had a migraine on the day and was resting on the couch in her home while her mother went out to tend to a family emergency. The mother returned to find her daughter missing, although her belongings were still at home.
According to the complaint, Barker allegedly convinced the teen to get into a car and then drove her to a home in Carlos, Minnesota. There, the teen was repeatedly physically and sexually assaulted.
Barker, the father of one of the girl's friends, allegedly asked her to talk to his son who supposedly wasn't behaving himself. She agreed to accompany him, leaving her cellphone behind.
Talking about the incident, police chief Wyffles said, "Barker tied her up with zip ties and then he, his roommate and his friend over the next several weeks assaulted her and threatened her with weapons."
It was reported that the suspects left the teen alone for the first time on Tuesday (5 September), allowing her the opportunity to escape. She then went to several homes for help, but when no one answered, she swam across the Thompson Lake before running into a farm, where a resident farmer called emergency helpline 911.
"In Alexandria, this is really out there and unexplainable and horrific. For our community, this is a shocker. It's terrible," Wyffles added.
"We are in awe of the strength and courage that [the girl] showed to find safety," the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center said online, while the police chief said that they had never come across this kind of abduction in the city of Alexandria, which has a population of around 13,000 residents.