D.A. declines to file charges in religious group 'brainwashing' case

Los Angeles Times/June 15, 2015

By Tony Perry

The San Diego County district attorney's office announced Monday it has decided not to file charges against three people arrested on suspicion of kidnapping a relative from the Twelve Tribes Community/Church in Vista, Calif.

A D.A. spokeswoman, when asked for an explanation, said that the D.A. files charges only that it believes can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department, on June 6, announced that it had arrested three people on suspicion of kidnapping a 23-year-old relative whom they feared was being "brainwashed" by the devoutly religious group.

The arrests occurred after what deputies initially thought was a hit-and-run incident.

Twelve Tribes is a religious community whose members live in a house in Vista, which also serves as a church. Others live on a 66-acre avocado ranch in Valley Center. The group also runs the Yellow Deli in Vista and its members are often seen at farmers markets selling produce.

Within hours of the arrests, Twelve Tribes identified the person who was allegedly kidnapped as Robert Martinez and said that he "became a part of our community almost five years ago."

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