The New Hampshire 15-year-old who suddenly reappeared at home last month after a nine-month disappearance, “suffered numerous acts of unspeakable violence” after her abduction by a stranger, her attorney says.
Authorities have charged Nathaniel Kibby, 34, of Gorham, New Hampshire, with the Oct. 9, 2013, kidnapping of Hernandez, then 14, as she walked home from Kennett High School in North Conway, New Hampshire. But since then, no details have been made public to explain either the teen’s disappearance or her return, when she apparently walked into her mother’s home on July 20.
“There’s been a lot of hurtful misinformation and misinformed speculation,” the family’s attorney, Michael Coyne, tells PEOPLE. “It is problematic that everyone has an opinion and thinks they know what happened. But only as the facts and evidence are disclosed will people really understand what took place.”
During the high-profile search for the teen and after her return, the girl’s mother stated that she did not believe her daughter had run away or was pregnant.
Today, says the family attorney, the teen is “working through issues that no child should have to work through. That was the purpose of trying to get some of that information out there, to ask people to just give her some time after many, many months of confinement.”
Hoping to quell further speculation, Coyne issued a statement Tuesday to assure the public that answers will be forthcoming.
“[She] needs and wants some time and space to physically and emotionally heal. It is going to be a long process in pursuit of justice … and for [her] to get physically and emotionally stronger,” the statement reads.
“As the justice system moves forward, and the evidence is revealed, questions about this horrific event will be answered. [She] was violently abducted by a stranger. For many months, she suffered numerous acts of unspeakable violence. Through her faith, fortitude and resilience, she is alive today and home with her family.”
She “simply asks that you respect her wishes and the justice process as this case moves forward. We trust that justice will be done … We ask that you be sensitive to the well-being of this child and give her the time and space she needs – that any of us would desire for a member of our own family or loved one who suffered as she has.”