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Colombian father accused of decades-long incest, rape

  • Story Highlights
  • Daughter of Colombian farm worker says she had eight children by her father
  • Alba Nidia, 35, says her father has sexually abused her since she was about 5
  • Arcedio Alvarez Quintero charged with sexual abuse and incest
  • Lawyer says defense will be that Nidia is not defendant's biological daughter
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From Toby Muse
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(CNN) -- A central Colombian farm worker has been accused of raping his daughter for decades and fathering eight children with her.

The daughter, 35-year-old Alba Nidia, told CNN that her biological father has sexually abused her since she was about 5, shortly after her mother's death, resulting in 14 pregnancies. Eight children -- five girls and three boys -- survived.

Her father, Arcedio Alvarez Quintero, is being held in jail to face charges of sexual abuse, incest and aggravated sexual assault. Alvarez and his family live near the town of Mariquita in the western province of Tolima, and the local media have dubbed him a "monster."

The case has been likened to that of Josef Fritzl, the 73-year-old Austrian who was sentenced this month to life in prison for imprisoning and raping his daughter in his basement over 24 years, during which time she gave birth to seven children.

Alvarez's lawyer, Ricardo Correa, told CNN affiliate Caracol that his client appeared Saturday before a judge, who read the three charges. The judge ruled that the case against Alvarez was strong enough for him to be jailed with special protection as he awaits trial. No trial date has been scheduled.

Caracol reported that Alvarez entered "innocent" pleas to the charges.

Correa did not respond to CNN requests for an interview.

According to Caracol, the 59-year old Alavarez told the court he is innocent. Correa told Caracol that his client's defense "will be that Alba Nidia is not his biological daughter," but his adopted child.

Nidia insists that she is his daughter.

Authorities plan to conduct blood tests to determine the two's genetic relationship, local officials said.

"I feel confused -- knowing that he has been arrested, he is still my father," Nidia told CNN in a phone interview. "But I think it's the right thing to do."

She added that, "The children don't talk about this situation. They are silent much of the time."

Gilma Jimenez, a local councilwoman who has had close contact with Nidia, has offered her financial assistance and has been speaking out against child abuse.

"One of the tragedies of this whole story, is that it seems that many different people in the community knew about this situation, but no one said anything," Jimenez told CNN. "This is the indifference, the silence that encourages more child abuse."

Nidia said that "problems in the house" forced her to run away from the home she shared with her father nine months ago, taking her five daughters -- the youngest of whom was less than a year old -- and her 5-year-old son.

She moved to a nearby town and worked 15 hours a day at a restaurant.

"For this job, for all of those hours, she earns a miserable wage of under $3 a day," said Hugo Parra, an investigator with Jimenez's office. "We've been sending her money, just so she can survive."

If Alvarez is convicted, he could receive as little as eight years, Jimenez said.

"This is not enough. ... We have failed our children in Colombia," she said.

Jimenez added that Alvarez is receiving special protection in the jail, saying, "Criminals will tolerate any crime, except child abuse. I'm sure all the other prisoners are waiting to try to get to him."

This case comes as Colombia is weighing whether to change the constitution to punish convicted child abusers with up to life imprisonment. A campaign calling for a referendum on the issue says it has collected more than 2 million signatures.

All About ColombiaSexual OffensesJosef Fritzl

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