Undated handout picture shows Adam Gault, who was arrested when a missing teen-age girl was found locked in a hidden room under the staircase of his home
West Hartford, Conn., Police
Adam Gault, 41, in a police booking photo, was arrested when a missing 15-year-old girl was found locked in a hidden room under the staircase of his home.
updated 6/7/2007 5:47:00 PM ET 2007-06-07T21:47:00

A man charged in the disappearance of a teenage girl discovered hidden Wednesday in the man's house filed a sexual abuse complaint on her behalf before she vanished in 2006.

Police in Bloomfield said the complaint was filed by Adam Gault, who claimed that a family friend may have sexually abused the girl, now 15. There was insufficient evidence and the complaint was closed, Bloomfield police Capt. Jeffrey Blatter said.

Police said the girl later ran away from home and moved in with Gault, who lives in nearby West Hartford. Police are now investigating whether he had inappropriate relationships with her and girls across the country.

"There have been a number of complaints that have been generated from within the state of Connecticut and without as to other victims who are calling," Bloomfield police Capt. Jeffrey Blatter said at a news conference Thursday. "We are looking into all of those now."

Gault, 41, was arrested and charged Wednesday in her disappearance after police served a search warrant and found her locked in a hidden closet-like room in his house.

At a news conference Thursday, the girl's mother and the family's attorney denied allegations that the girl had run away from an abusive household and expressed joy over her safe return.

"Not every parent gets this opportunity to have a happy ending," said the girl's mother, who only identified herself as Jennifer.

‘Every parent's nightmare’
Bloomfield police Capt. Jeffrey Blatter also spoke at the news conference and said allegations that the parents had abused their daughter were unfounded.

Gault, a dog trainer, was arrested with two women who lived in the house, 40-year-old Ann Murphy and Kimberly Cray, 26. The three were arraigned Thursday, charged with conspiracy to commit unlawful restraint, conspiracy to commit risk of injury to a minor and interfering with police.

"Every parent's nightmare was mine," the girl's mother told reporters Thursday. "I can never describe the horror of losing a child and having to maintain a family at the same time and having to go on."

The Associated Press and MSNBC.com are not identifying her because police are investigating if she was sexually abused.

Gault’s bond was set at $1 million. Murphy, who police described as Gault’s common-law wife, was held on $750,000 bond. Cray’s bond was set at $500,000. It was unclear if Gault had a lawyer.

Cray’s attorney, Michael Georgetti, told reporters that before the girl disappeared, she reported to police she had been sexually abused, though he said no arrests were made.

Georgetti did not say who he believed had sexually abused the girl. He said Cray and the others were offering her a safe haven.

She lived in Gault’s house for a year, attending school, and owned a cell phone, Georgetti said. He said that she was hiding from police Wednesday but was otherwise free to come and go.

“If you were taking actions to prevent someone from being abused, that is not a crime,” Georgetti said. “We can protect animals from abuse. I think we should be able to protect children from abuse.”

Safe-haven claim disputed
But West Hartford police Capt. Lori Coppinger said the girl was not attending school and disputed Georgetti’s claim that the teen had been offered safe haven.

“Information that we have would lead us in another direction as to what her welfare was at this time,” she said.

Investigators believe the girl sometimes traveled out of state and assumed a new identity while living with Gault, of nearby West Hartford, Police Capt. Blatter said.

“She was compelled to use a new name, to assume a new identity,” Blatter told The Associated Press. “She did assume a name that would suggest she was part of that family.”

The Associated Press is not identifying her because police are investigating if she was sexually abused. Authorities did not say how she altered her name.

Other girls may have experienced “something very similar to what’s going on right now with this young girl” found Wednesday, Coppinger said. Police said Gault was associated with at least two or three other girls before police found the girl Wednesday.

More charges possible
The cases involving the other girls have not been prosecuted because the frightened girls were reluctant to give statements necessary to pursue the cases. Police said they will be interviewed and additional charges may be filed against Gault.

“The case is definitely ongoing,” Blatter said. “There are obviously greater suspicions that are being pursued.”

The girl’s stepfather told WCBS-TV in an interview Thursday that her mother had been allowed to spend a few hours with her Wednesday.

“She’s having some issues,” he said of the girl. “She didn’t even know who she was.”

He said family members, who own a kennel and dog day care in Bloomfield, had limited information about what had happened to the girl in the year she was gone.

“We’re just as much in the dark as everybody else is right now,” said the stepfather.

The teen had no obvious external injuries. Investigators would not speculate on what she might have experienced during the past year or if she was held against her will.

Blatter said the girl remained in protective custody Thursday so investigators could continue talking with her.

Police said they had already established that Gault knew the missing girl, and said he and the girl’s parents had some sort of undisclosed business transaction in the year before she disappeared.

Police: Suspect, girl talked often
Cell phone records showed that Gault and the teen talked often before she vanished, Blatter told CNN.

Video: Locked-up girl found

“There was an inordinate amount of contact via cellular phone and then, during follow ups, there were a lot of other circumstances that led us to believe there was an inappropriate relationship,” he said.

Officers had questioned Gault several times, but he always denied any involvement in her disappearance. They served a search warrant on his home Wednesday morning, seeking a DNA sample and other evidence.

The girl was held in a locked tiny room, about 3 feet high and 4 to 5 feet deep. The doorway was hidden by a bureau.

Blatter said it did not appear the girl lived in the hidden room, and that police did not find bedding or other items that would suggest it was used as living space.

A 16-year-old boy identified in court documents as Murphy’s son was also living at the house. He was placed in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families, which also will decide if the missing girl should be returned to her parents.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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