Two California marijuana farmers are pleading not guilty for allegedly keeping a 15-year-old girl as a sex slave, housing her in a four by two foot metal box for months on their Clearlake, California farm. Her captives, 30-year-old Ryan Balletto and 24 year-old Patrick Pearmain were arrested on July 26 on sexual abuse charges. The charges were denied in a San Francisco federal court today.
Both Balletto and Pearmain have been charged with drug-related offenses, including conspiracy to distribute marijuana, using a minor in a drug operation, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. They have yet to be charged with any sexual-based offenses.
It's believed that 15-year-old victim was coerced into calling law enforcement to tell them that she was "OK" just after the Lake County's sheriff's office contacted Balletto asking about the missing girl. Cops traced the call to a motel in Sacramento. Their room was raided where police found the girl with Pearmain. Among the items that were in the room: a bag of marijuana, prescription drugs, a script for the girl to read over the phone to cops, a pregnancy test and sketches for a marijuana greenhouse.
You can read the police report below:
The Department of Homeland Security has been investigating Balletto's farm since 2011. They conducted numerous flyovers of his land at 1750 Ogulin Canyon Road, Clearlake, California (below). They identified at least two greenhouses that were full of marijuana plants. After the LAPD contacted Lake County Sheriff's Department about a missing Los Angeles teenager, referred to as "minor" in the criminal complaint, they believed that Balletto had kidnapped the girl. Local law enforcement were familiar with Balletto due to the Homeland Security investigation.
The girl denied being raped by the men and told police that their sex had been "consensual" — though she's too young to give consent. She said that the sex with Balletto, age 30, had been "less consensual" and that she had only had sex with him to "help him out." According to the complaint she told police the men had told her they were on a "mission" and that she was held because she was good at harvesting the marijuana plants and preparing them for sale and distribution.
After the girl was found, Balletto's farm was raided. In addition to the drugs found at the residence, cops found a box they believe the girl was kept in. It was a 4-x-2 tool box with numerous drawings on the outside including one that labeled the box as "Bone Collector." A hose was attached to the box, which police believe was used to flush out human waste. A poem, written by the girl, was found on the property which described her life in the box. During her month-long torture, the girl spent an accumulative total of three days in the box.