OROVILLE (CBS13) – A woman was held against her will in the attic of a home in Oroville and repeatedly sexually assaulted over a two-week span by her ex-husband, according to the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies went to the home in the 4600 block of Lincoln Boulevard on Tuesday for a welfare check on adult woman whose name isn’t being released because of the nature of the alleged crimes against her.

Lawson Rankin, 29, denied knowing the whereabouts of the woman, but deputies noticed he was covered in drywall mud and saw an area in the kitchen that had recently been covered over with drywall mud and was still wet.

(Source: California Megan's Law)

Lawson Rankin, 29, allegedly held a woman against her will in the attic of a home. (Source: California Megan’s Law)

When they broke through the seal, they located the woman inside the attic.

She told deputies she had been held against her will in the attic for about two weeks and that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Rankin.

Russell Blair, a friend of Rankin, swears the woman wanted to be in the attic, and insists she could’ve left at any time.

“That was her choice, what she wanted to do. She was up there because she wanted to be up there,” said Blair. “Because she’s married to the man and she loves him.”

Public records show the woman divorced Rankin in 2010 and took out a restraining order to prevent domestic violence by her ex-husband, who is also a registered sex offender.

But the suspect’s friends insist the two were rekindling lost love, and living together in the attic.

They were hiding out, friends claim, because of the restraining order keeping them from being seen together.

“Wherever it took, so they could be together,” said Blair. “They didn’t care; they wanted their love.”

Based on the initial investigation, Rankin was arrested for a parole violation, torture, false imprisonment, domestic battery, spousal rape, criminal threats, witness intimidation and violation of a court order.

Rankin is being held without bail at the Butte County Jail.


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