JUDGE DELAYS KIDNAPPING, RAPE TRIAL AGAINST COUPLE

Date: 1999-05-12

Post-Tribune (IN)
Author: The Associated Press

The trial of a Bristol couple accused of kidnapping an infant and abusing her until adulthood has been delayed until next year.

Former minister Joseph Combs and his wife, Evangeline Combs, are charged with kidnapping the girl from a church-run orphanage in Valparaiso 19 years ago under the pretense of adopting her.

The state charges the couple then used the girl as a family servant and did not let her attend school or leave the house by herself. Joseph Combs also is charged with repeatedly raping the girl.

The case came to light in 1997 after the girl, then known as Esther Combs, was hospitalized after a suicide attempt. Doctors discovered layered scar tissue all over her body.

Attorneys for the couple told the judge Monday they had only recently received material from prosecutors and would not be ready by the June 21 trial date.

The defense must interview 100 potential witnesses and review 28 photographs of the Combs family recently found in a box beside a Dumpster in Bristol.

Circuit Judge Jerry Beck agreed to the delay.

The Combs deny any mistreatment of Esther and are supported by friends and their five other children.

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