(Reuters) - A New Hampshire teenager who was missing for nine months and mysteriously returned home in July "suffered numerous acts of unspeakable violence" at the hands of the man authorities charged with kidnapping her, according to a family lawyer.
Fifteen-year-old Abigail Hernandez said she was abducted by force, the lawyer said in a statement released late Tuesday, the first public disclosure that she faced violence during her confinement.
"Abby was violently abducted by a stranger. For many months, she suffered numerous acts of unspeakable violence," Michael Coyne said. "Through her faith, fortitude and resilience, she is alive today and home with her family."
A week after Hernandez's return to her home in Conway, nestled in the White Mountains, state prosecutors charged Nathaniel Kibby, 34, with one count of felony kidnapping for abducting the teen in October 2013. Their investigation has focused on Kibby's trailer home and a backyard storage container in the nearby town of Gorham.
In the statement, Coyne, who also serves as dean of the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover, Massachusetts, thanked law enforcement and the public for its support, but said Hernandez needed time to heal.
Her reappearance last month was greeted with relief and elation in Conway, a town popular for its ski mountains and outdoor recreation.
"It is going to be a long process in pursuit of justice for Abby and for Abby to get physically and emotionally stronger," Coyne said.
Kibby's public defender has said his client is innocent. He is being held on $1 million cash bail.
Reporting by Ted Siefer in Lowell, Massachusetts; Editing by Scott Malone and Susan Heavey