MESA, Ariz. (AP) — Police in a Phoenix suburb are investigating a child-abuse case in which a 3-year-old malnourished girl was bound with duct tape, kept in a trash sack inside closet and offered for sex by a man babysitting the child, officials said Tuesday.
“This is just one of those cases that just shocks the soul,” Mesa Police Chief John Meza said.
Police said the man was arrested Monday, along with the girl’s mother, who 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 diaper and a T-shirt, was covered in feces 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 on her own, according to Meza.
“The child was in terrible condition,” the police chief said.
The girl was hospitalized 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, 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 Associated Press generally does not name sexual abuse victims and is not naming the mother to avoid identifying the child.
Court documents released Tuesday 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 that 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 seeing 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 Tuesday at his initial court appearance, while bail was set at $15,000 for girl’s mother. Neither has an attorney yet.
The suspects worked at separate fast-food restaurants, police said.
Meza said officers involved in the case would be offered counseling.