Goodyear girl still in hospital 3 weeks after potty-training 'war'

Relates to:
Date: 2009-05-16

by Jackee Coe - May. 16, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

A 4-year-old Goodyear girl is still in the hospital, three weeks after her parents reportedly used blunt force during a potty-training "war," officials said.

Raul Varela, 40, and his wife, Tricia Varela, 39, were arrested and booked on one count each of felony child abuse on April 28.

They have been released until their preliminary hearing Tuesday but are prohibited from having unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 18, court records state.

Raul Varela, Goodyear's engineering director, is on paid administrative leave.

About 12:30 a.m. April 28, Tricia Varela took her daughter to the emergency room at West Valley Hospital in Goodyear for abdominal pain, according to a Goodyear police report.

Hospital staff discovered severe bruising on her legs, arms, upper and lower back, abdomen and head as well as what appeared to be a broken arm.

Deemed to be in critical condition, the girl was taken to Maricopa Medical Center's Pediatric Unit in Phoenix about 5:45 a.m., the report states.

Doctors immediately suspected child abuse based on the nature and extent of her injuries, according to the police report.

The girl had abdominal bruising on both sides of her body extending to her lower back, two broken legs and a fracture to her upper right arm, the report shows.

Doctors determined the bruising on the back of her knee, inside and outside of both thighs and back were consistent with blunt force.

She had to be medically sedated due to the pain and her "deteriorating condition," according to the report.

Raul and Tricia Varela admitted they had caused the girl's injuries on April 25, the report states. The couple said they forced her on the toilet by restraining her with her hands held behind her back, pushing on her stomach, back and legs and pushing her head down between her legs.

Raul Varela told police he and his wife often force the girl to stay on the toilet for "hours on end" because it's the only way they can get her to comply, according to the report. He said he was aware doing so causes visible injury and knew she was hurt on April 25 but did not get her medical attention.

The Varelas brought her to the hospital three days later because they thought she was constipated.

There were six children living with the couple in their Goodyear home: two biological sons, ages 7 and 9, and four adopted daughters, ages 2 to 8, including the victim.

Child Protective Services removed the children from the home and will assume care of the 4-year-old when she is released from the hospital.

She is in stable condition at Maricopa Medical Center.

Police are still investigating the case and waiting for medical reports on the girl's injuries.


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