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L.A. girl kept in metal box on pot farm for sex, authorities say

By Joseph Serna

12:42 PM EDT, July 26, 2013

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A missing Los Angeles teenager was sexually assaulted, kept in a metal box and forced to process marijuana for her two captors, according to a federal criminal complaint filed this week.

Prosecutors said the girl was held by Ryan Balletto, 30, and Patrick Pearmain, 24, who are charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, using a minor in a drug operation and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.

According to prosecutors, the case was blown open when a Los Angeles police detective called Lake County sheriff’s officials asking about a connection between Balletto and the girl.

UPDATES: Pot farm raid reveals horrifying tale of teen's captivity

An initial visit to the Balletto’s 680-acre property in Lake County by deputies on April 29 turned up nothing. But the next day, the girl called sheriff’s deputies back on a cellphone, court documents show.

The girl told authorities she was doing “OK” and was with Balletto in Sacramento. Authorities traced the cellphone to West Sacramento, where police found the girl in a hotel with Pearmain.

Police arrested the two. Police also allegedly found a bag full of marijuana, prescription drugs, condoms and a pregnancy test. Pearmain also had a notebook on him that had an apparent script for the girl to read to police over the phone, authorities claim. Sketches of a marijuana greenhouse and a list of supplies were also found.

DOCUMENT: Read the criminal complaint

The girl told authorities she was having consensual sex with both men, which officials noted is not legally possible given her age. She said the men told her they were on a “mission” with the marijuana and that they were holding her because she was so good at “trimming” or processing it for drying.

On May 1, authorities raided Balletto’s rural home and his second home in Lakeport.

On the rural property, which the girl knew as “the farm,” investigators found a metal box with holes in it. Spray painted on the outside was the first initial of the teenage girl’s name and inside was a decal that “depicted an animal skull surrounding the shadow image of a human skull with the logo ‘Bone Collector,’” according to the court documents.

Human hair was found inside, prosecutors said. The girl said she was kept in the box for a total of three days and was given water through a hose. The box was hoisted into the air and tilted at an angle so when water was poured inside it would wash the girl and clean human waste out of the box, court documents say.

Authorities said they also found a poem signed by the girl inside describing life in the box.

Elsewhere on the property, investigators found sex toys and a wooden-framed “rack” to hoist and immobilize people. It was used for sexual bondage and sadomasochism, authorities said. A white towel below the rack had blood on it, according to prosecutors.

Outside of Pearmain’s trailer on the property, authorities also found a pile of “well-worn” disassembled wood, metal and leather.

UPDATES: Pot farm raid reveals horrifying tale of teen's captivity

More than 1,200 marijuana plants were found on the property and destroyed, according to court documents. There are indications the girl may not have been the only victim.

During a search of the Lakeport property, authorities found a ponytail of human hair inside Balletto’s gun safe, along with 17 guns and $4,000 in cash. Balletto’s girlfriend was staying at the home with their five children, officials said.

The two face 10 years to life in prison but have yet to be charged in the alleged abuse of the teen.

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Joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna