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Her Name’s Not Cindy and She’s Not 10

January 26, 1996

HOUSTON (AP) _ It turns out Cindy Garcia wasn’t 10, wasn’t from Houston and wasn’t even Cindy Garcia.

The case of the young pregnant girl whose flight from social workers prompted a wide search took an even stranger twist Thursday.

The girl was carrying a forged birth certificate obtained by her mother, police said.

What authorities now believe is that Cindy is really Adella Quintana, probably about 14, born in Mexico and about eight months pregnant. Officials earlier feared she could deliver any day, but doctors who examined her Thursday said she probably won’t give birth for a month.

The man accused of impregnating her, Pedro Sotelo, 22, arrived in court this morning to face charges of sexual assault _ reduced, because of the discovery about the girl’s age. State District Judge Jim Barr appointed an attorney for Sotelo, who appeared wearing a bright orange jail suit.

Speaking through a translator, the Spanish-speaking Sotelo said he had a headache and repeatedly buried his hands in his face.

Prosecutors said today that the charge was reduced to second-degree sexual assault, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The aggravated sexual assault charge filed earlier carried up to a 99-year prison term.

Sotelo, a Mexican national, has been held in a county jail on $200,000 bond since Wednesday night, when he and Adella were found in a Houston apartment.

A woman had taken them, cold and hungry, into her apartment and had a friend call 911.

Adella was taken to LBJ Hospital where obstetricians said she was in good condition. It was not clear when she would be released.

The girl’s mother, Francesca Quintana, gave police a written statement Thursday saying she got the phony birth certificate when the family moved from Mexico so she could enroll Adella in Houston’s public schools, police spokesman Alvin Wright said.

Detectives were consulting authorities in Mexico to try to confirm Adella’s age. The girl had given police and social workers various ages, although the birth certificate was the only documentation they had.

``Whether she’s 10 or 14, she’s been sexually abused and we will protect her,″ said Judy Hay of Harris County Children’s Protective Services.

A 14-year-old in Texas can legally have sex only with someone no more than three years older. The unrestricted age of consent is 17.

Police have not determined when Adella’s family moved to Houston from Mexico. Adella and Sotelo are illegal aliens, authorities said, but it was not immediately clear whether Ms. Quintana was living in the country illegally.

Adella’s parents are divorced. Her father’s whereabouts were unknown, and police were investigating whether to charge the mother with child neglect.

The girl had been taken to a shelter by authorities after she turned up at a welfare office two weeks ago with the phony certificate to qualify for food stamps and child support.

Social workers had panicked when Adella ran away Sunday, fearing that she wouldn’t have proper medical supervision. They said her young body probably wouldn’t be able to withstand childbirth without a Caesarean section.

Authorities complained that their investigation of the entire affair was slow because the girl’s family was uncooperative and the boyfriend was mum.

``This family has not been forthcoming with information,″ Ms. Hay said. ``There’s been a lot of misleading information.″

Adella’s 15-year-old sister, Oralia Garcia, who lives with her 19-year-old boyfriend down the street, said her sister loves Sotelo, wants to marry him and raise their child.

But whether Adella and her baby will be allowed to stay together remains uncertain. ``My experience is it will take a lot of work before anyone’s going to feel safe about letting either child back to that home,″ Hay said.

Social workers acknowledged that they couldn’t guarantee Adella would stay in custody to receive medical care and await the birth of her child.

``We will be doing everything we possibly can to ensure she won’t run away,″ said Sara Webster, regional director of the county’s child protection agency. ``But you must understand we don’t have lockup facilities. This child has not committed a crime.″

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