VICTORVILLE, Calif. —
A rape victim in the high desert and the detective who brought her alleged attacker to justice 10 years later shared their story Friday with KNBC’s Mary Parks.
Celestino Payan was charged in 1998 with three counts of lewd acts upon a child and one count of forcible rape. He was arrested in Valencia, Spain, in April 8, 2008, and is currently waiting extradition back to California.
Deputies said family members bailed Payan out of jail in 1998. Then he disappeared for 10 years, Parks reported.
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San Bernardino County Sheriff’s detectives said Payan, then 74 years old, molested and raped a then-15-year-old neighbor girl. The abuse allegedly began when the girl’s parents started having Payan take care of the child.
“He stole my childhood,” said victim Jane Doe on Friday.
Doe said it was her faith in the detective working the case, Laurie Savage, and a “higher power” that gave her hope one day Payan would be captured.
“I’m strong enough now. It’s been 10 years and it’s been a while. (Savage is) someone I can lean on to just keep me sane,” Doe said.
Although the years went by and police moved on to other cases, Savage tracked Payan after he applied for a U.S. passport.
“Most rape victims go through this trauma that sometimes they never get over, and so I made a commitment to her, I was going to help her through this,” Savage said.
Savage recently retired but stayed on as a reserve deputy to finish the case.
“I have 23 years with the sheriff’s department and this is fantastic to be able to close like this,” Savage said.