Two Florida parents have been arrested after authorities say they abused and neglected their 12-year-old adopted daughter. CBS News Crimesider reports that Eugenio Erquiaga and his wife, Victoria, are accused of a variety of shocking acts, which they claim were done to protect their other children.
Authorities in Sarasota claim that they were alerted to a potentially abusive situation when a neighbor called them after the 12-year-old girl “escaped” from her parents. The girl showed up at the neighbor’s home with her ankles and wrists bound with zip-ties. The alarming sight became worse when the child told the man what had happened.
“My parents abandoned me. I was left and ran away.”
When authorities arrived at the home of the 12-year-old girl, it became immediately apparent that something very wrong had been going on under the roof of the Florida parents’ home. Sarasota Police claim that the preteen had been kept in a “glorified cage” in the home of Eugenio Erquiaga and his wife. When the parents were arrested, they admitted to frequently locking the girl in the “playhouse,” which was located in the family’s loft. The so-called “playhouse” measured approximately five-by-seven feet. This tiny space in the home was where the 12-year-old Florida girl allegedly spent several hours at a time, during which time she’d not be allowed to leave the area — not even to use the bathroom. She was reportedly forced to use the bathroom inside of the playhouse, where she was sometimes bound with the zip ties.
This cage was used to shove an autistic child into – by the school. This is child abuse. http://t.co/GodNpLbIrn
— Preston de Guise (@backupbear) September 9, 2015
The adoptive parents of the 12-year-old girl claim that she is emotionally unstable and that they zip-tied her and kept her locked up in the loft in order to keep their other children safe. The other children, who are a mixture of adoptees and biological kids, have been removed from the home along with the alleged victim. Authorities have claimed that it appears as though the 12-year-old girl is the only one confined in this manner.
The Florida couple has each been charged with aggravated child abuse. The Daily Mail reports that the girl’s siblings have confirmed her claims during interviews with authorities regarding the matter. The parents have reportedly claimed that they are “at their wits end” and do not know how to keep a rein on the 12-year-old girl they admit to locking in a “glorified cage” in their residence.
This is not the first time caregivers have been accused of abusing children by keeping them in cages. In fact, some of the stories, including some in Florida, have some downright gruesome details. In 2008, a Florida woman was sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment, after she was convicted of neglecting and abusing her three adopted children. A judge in Jacksonville acknowledged that 51-year-old Brenda M. Sullivan kept her adopted kids in cages and “treated them like animals” during their time in her care. Just like this recent case out of Sarasota, the Florida mom claimed that she did it to keep control of her mentally disabled son, but a judge wasn’t buying her defense.
Sarasota child abuse after detectives say they zip-tied daughter, confined her to ‘glorified cage’ https://t.co/yDQdHzpeov OMG!! Stop!
— Karen Allyn (@KaarenAllyn) January 7, 2016
As of right now, it’s not known what kind of punishment the two Florida parents could face for allegedly zip-tying their adopted daughter and keeping her in a “glorified cage.” If the case of Brenda Sullivan is any indication of what’s to come, then the two could find themselves facing quite a few years in prison — unless a judge shows them mercy. Would they deserve it?
[Image via Sarasota Police mugshots]