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DA: Woman Found in Attic Recants Story

orovillehomeBUTTE COUNTY-

A woman who said she had been held captive by her ex in their Oroville home for two weeks, now recants her story.

According to the Butte County District Attorney’s office, the woman is recanting her story of being abused and kept in an attic, however they are going ahead with the charges.

Monday, Sheriff’s deputies found Lawson Rankin covered in drywall mud. Deputies tore down the fresh patch of drywall, and found the woman they were looking for in the attic.

“(Rankin) denied that his wife was present, told us the wife was not there and hadn’t seen her since August,” said Lt. Alan Smith, with the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.

The woman told deputies she had been there for two weeks, and that Rankin had assaulted her.

“According to the victim, she was beaten on a daily basis and was also sexually assaulted while she was up in this area and she was afraid to leave the area, in fear for her life,” Smith told FOX40.

However, the woman later recanted her story to investigators and called the district attorney not wanting to testify. She told him she was in the attic so that Rankin would not get into trouble with his parole officer.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey is going forward with the charges against Rankin. He told FOX40 there have been three separate domestic abuse incidents between the woman and Rankin in the last year and a half. In one of them, the woman showed up to court over the summer with a black eye, and refused to testify against Rankin.

“It’s not unusual for victims of domestic violence that have been severely injured, that are still in love with their abuser and when law enforcement comes and gets them out of the situation, they change their story around,” Ramsey said.

Friends of Rankin spoke to FOX40 Thursday, defending him.

“I was here. If that lady’s life was in jeopardy I would’ve seen. I wouldn’t have sat back and let that happen. What kind of man would that make me? No better than what they say he is,” said Russell Blair, who lives on Rankin’s property.

Another friend, who did not wish to be identified, said the woman could have left at any time.

“The purpose of staying in the attic was to avoid the fact there was a restraining order against him from seeing her,” Ramsey said. “If his parole officer had come by, or law enforcement had come by, then they would not see her. She was in love with him, that she wanted to remain out of sight, but with him.”

Sam Cohen and Ian McDonald contributed to this report.