‘Nightmare’ for 3 kids


July 30, 2009
‘Nightmare’ for 3 kids <!–10 min–>

Abneris Santiago (left) is charged with injury to a child, while Alfred Santiago faces charges of aggravated sexual assault and continuous sexual abuse. — PHOTO: AP

DALLAS – THE hotel bathroom was a de facto prison cell – a cramped, foul space where three young children were starved, beaten and sexually assaulted for at least nine months.

The toilet didn’t work. The bathtub was a place to sleep. Meals were rare, and the two oldest children – once each a healthy 40 kg – withered to less than 27 kg.

Each day for reasons unknown, their mother’s boyfriend would force the 10-year-old boy to stand in the corner with his arms raised above his head; his 5-year-old half brother had to kneel in another corner, arms also raised.

The disturbing details emerged in court records that tell the horrific story of the torture borne by the two boys and their 11-year-old half sister, all of whom have different fathers. The children were found July 2 after their mother called a relative to say she feared for her own life and those of her children.

The 10-year-old, his face and limbs covered in bruises, told a social worker that the experience was ‘my living nightmare.’ The 11-year-old said she repeatedly was sexually assaulted. The 5-year-old was so thin that bones were visible in his limbs.

The children were rescued by their uncle and police, their ribs protruding and their bellies distended. After throwing up food given to them by stunned officials, the children expressed gratitude at being found.

‘God was watching over us and listening to our prayers,’ the 11-year-old said. The 10-year-old agreed. ‘My prayers have been answered,’ he said. ‘I’m safe, that’s all I need.’

The mother’s boyfriend, Alfred Santiago, 37, faces charges of aggravated sexual assault and continuous sexual abuse. He remained jailed on Wednesday, unable to make his US$125,000 (S$180,000) bail. No court appearance has been set.

The mother, Abneris Santiago, 30, is charged with injury to a child. She remained jailed on US$50,000 bail and is expected to appear in court next week, when a judge will decide whether the case will go to a grand jury. – AP.



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