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N. California woman recants story of being held hostage in attic, but DA won't drop charges

Prosecutors in Northern California say they plan to pursue charges against a man accused of holding his ex-wife hostage in his attic — even though the woman has recanted the story.

Lawson Rankin, 29, of Oroville was arrested this week after sheriff's deputies discovered his ex-wife trapped behind a wall in the attic of his house. She told deputies that she had been held captive there for two weeks and was repeatedly beaten and raped by Rankin.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said the woman, whose identity has not been released, told him Thursday that she wasn't held against her will and she doesn't want to testify.

When deputies went to Rankin's Oroville house to check on his ex-wife Monday, he said he didn't know where she was, but they noticed he was covered in drywall mud. The officers saw an area wet with the mud and broke the seal to find the woman trapped inside, official said.

The district attorney said his office will still proceed with charges against Rankin, who was arrested on suspicion of torture, rape, false imprisonment and other charges.

Ramsey said there have been three prior domestic abuse incidents between Rankin and his ex-wife.

"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 told KTLX-TV in Sacramento.

Rankin was booked into Butte County Jail without bail. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.

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