Allegations of child abuse have rattled a New York City neighborhood after police revealed that an emaciated 12-year-old was beaten and starved for more than a year and locked in her room.
Brown said the young girl, Maya Ranot, who weighs a mere 58 pounds, recounted for investigators a horrific story of abuse that included beatings with a baseball bat and broken broom handle. The district attorney further alleged the child was locked in a room without food or water for extended periods of time.
Police on Friday arrested Rajesh Ranot, 46, and his wife, Sheetal Ranot, 31, of Ozone Park, on a number of charges, including assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
According to the district attorney's office, the "unspeakable physical abuse" the child allegedly endured occurred between December 2012 and July 2014.
In one instance in December 2012, it is alleged that Sheetal Ranot kicked her stepdaughter in the face, causing "bruising, swelling and substantial pain," authorities said. On another occasion, in May 2013, the stepmother allegedly hit the child with a broken metal broom handle, causing a deep laceration to the girl's left wrist. The injury was so severe, Brown said, that the tendons in the girl's left wrist were cut to the bone.
The girl was transported to a local hospital where she underwent surgery to repair her wrist. What, if any, explanation was given to authorities at that time remains unclear.
In a third instance of abuse that occurred in April 2014, Sheetal Ranot allegedly hit her stepdaughter in the face with a wooden rolling pin, causing a laceration on her left cheek, according to court documents.
"At the time, doctors allegedly observed her to be underweight and thin, weighing 58 pounds, and wearing dirty clothes," Brown said.
It is further alleged, according to the criminal complaints, that Rajesh Ranot repeatedly beat his daughter about her body with his hands, his feet, a belt and a baseball bat, between December 2012 and May 2014, causing "bruising, swelling and pain about her body."
In addition to the alleged abuses detailed above, authorities say the child had been locked in her bedroom by her stepmother without food or water for extended periods of time and was forced to take cold showers.
Authorities say everything came to a head in May, when the girl was taken to a local emergency department, where doctors observed various bruises, marks and scars in different stages of healing throughout her body. At that point, detectives assigned to the 106th Precinct’s Detective Squad conducted an investigation, at which time Brown said the girl "found the courage" to speak with investigators.
"Despite the bruising and scarring on her body, which served as a silent testament to the violence and cruelty she purportedly endured, it is alleged that for a long time this emaciated child was fearful of disclosing the true nature of her injuries or those responsible for her suffering for fear that her younger step-siblings would be taken away by authorities and placed in foster care," Brown said.
He added, "It is not too hard to imagine that this case would have ended in the child’s death.”
Speaking with PIX 11, the girl's neighbor said she was timid and kept to herself.
"I used to try to talk to her but she always looked scared," the neighbor said.
Another local resident told the news station that the girl always wore long sleeves.
"Its sad to know parents can do something like that to their child," the woman said.
Sheetal Ranot, who is being held in jail in lieu of a $60,000 bond, faces up to 32 years in prison if convicted of all charges. Rajesh Ranot, faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. He is being held behind bars in lieu of $25,000 bail.
The Ranots are scheduled to appear in court on August 13, for a preliminary hearing.
"Thank God," one of Rajesh Ranot’s former in-laws told the New York Daily News when he heard of the arrests. "It's about time they locked him up. Everyone is afraid of him ... How could he do this to his own daughter?"