A malnourished, three-year-old girl was bound with duct tape, kept in a bin liner inside a cupboard, and offered for sex by a man babysitting her, say police in a Phoenix suburb.
“This is just one of those cases that just shocks the soul,” Mesa police chief, John Meza, said.
The man was arrested, with the girl’s mother.
The mother is accused of shaving her daughter’s head to get money by claiming the girl had cancer.
The girl had duct tape around her mouth, hands, arms, and legs, was wearing only a nappy and a T-shirt, was covered in faeces, and had multiple bruises, scratches, and blisters on her body, Meza said.
Injuries in the genital area indicated the girl had been sexually abused, and she was too weak to stand.
“The child was in terrible condition,” the police chief said.
The girl was hospitalised in fair condition and placed in temporary state custody. The state child-protection agency had no prior contacts involving the girl, agency spokesman, Doug Nick, said.
Police said Francisco Rios Covarrubias, aged 30, was arrested on suspicion of sex trafficking and other crimes, while the girl’s 22-year-old mother was arrested on suspicion of child abuse. The mother was not named, to avoid identifying the child.
Court documents said Covarrubias told police that he “had been in care and control of the child for the past several weeks”.
The girl’s mother told police she “had no knowledge of the sexual activity” that allegedly occurred at Covarrubias’ apartment.
Meza said officers found the girl after a man called police to report having seen the girl when he went to the apartment to have consensual sex with the male suspect. Covarrubias offered to allow the man to have sex with the child, but the man declined, Meza said.
Covarrubias was ordered held without bail at his initial court appearance, while bail was set at $15,000 (€13,875) for girl’s mother.
The suspects worked at separate fast-food restaurants, police said.
Meza said officers involved in the case would be offered counselling.
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