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Thursday
Mar032011

Jesse Bender, 13, Escapes Forced Marriage in Pakistan, Say Police

Photo Courteys - Getty Images(SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif.) -- The parents of a California 13-year-old are under investigation after the girl told police she was being forced to go to Pakistan for an arranged marriage.

The girl, Jesse Marie Bender, disappeared for more than a week and prompted a nationwide search after her mother, Melissa Bender, told police that her daughter had run off with someone she met on Facebook.

Friends and neighbors in the high-desert community of Hesperia launched a desperate search -- only to discover Wednesday that Jesse was being hidden from her mother and Pakistani stepfather by other family members.

Bender, who was described as an honors student in the eighth grade at Cedar Middle School, was taken in by child protective services along with her three siblings as authorities decide whether to charge the parents, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's office.

Jesse went missing on Feb. 22. She was discovered with her uncle and grandmother in nearby Apple Valley on March 2. No arrests have been made.

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