Two Lake County men have been accused of bringing a 15-year-old girl from Southern California to a rural Clearlake Oaks property where they allegedly imprisoned and raped her, authorities said.
Ryan Alan Balletto, 30, of Lakeport and Patrick Steven Pearmain, 24, of Clearlake were charged with human trafficking and a slew of sexual crimes against a child, Lake County District Attorney's officials said.
They are accused of keeping the girl on Balletto's 681-acre property near Clearlake Oaks where authorities also found 1,491 marijuana plants and a trove of military-grade weapons, armor and ammunition, officials said.
Lake County District Attorney Don Anderson said that the men are suspected of punishing the girl by putting her in a metal box.
Two separate investigations led authorities to Balletto and Pearmain, a local case involving the pot plants and a tip from Los Angeles regarding the human trafficking case, Anderson said.
Los Angeles authorities contacted the Lake County Sheriff's Office with information suggesting the girl, who is a ward of the court, was with the men, Anderson said.
Many details of the case remain unclear, including how long the girl was in Lake County. Authorities found the girl with one of the men outside of the county in April but it remained unclear precisely where, when and with whom.
Balletto and Pearmain were arrested May 1 when deputies raided the Clearlake Oaks property described as in the area of Junction Plaza.
They found the “largest and most sophisticated bulk of of weapons seized in recent Lake County Sheriff's Office history,” sheriff's officials said in a statement. The 22 weapons included high-powered military-grade sniper and assault rifles and pistols, sheriff's officials said.
They also seized $4,000 in cash and other military-grade gear such as high-capacity magazines, body armor and scopes.
Deputies searched Balletto's North Lakeport home where they arrested his girlfriend, Christa McConnell on suspicion of child endangerment because several weapons were in easy reach of children, Deputy District Attorney Ed Borg said.
Five children were taken into protective custody, sheriff's officials said.
The Sheriff's Office described Pearmain as Balletto's “associate.” Both men were charged May 3 with marijuana cultivation and possessing marijuana for sale, Borg said.
On May 20, prosecutors charged Balletto and Pearmain with human trafficking and numerous sex charges involving a victim under 16 and suspect over 21, including statutory rape, oral copulation, sodomy and false imprisonment, Borg said.
Balletto and Pearmain are being held at the Lake County Jail without bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 10.
You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or email@example.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.