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Woman Allegedly Confines 3 Adopted Kids


The America's Intelligence Wire

The owner of a daycare center was arrested for allegedly confining three of her adopted children, including forcing one to sleep in a small cupboard, authorities said Tuesday.

A 13-year-old boy and girls ages 6 and 9 appeared malnourished and were wearing clothes soiled with urine and feces. They were discovered Thursday by sheriff's deputies who acted on a tip and went to the home of Sylvia Jovanna Vasquez, Sgt. Erik Raney said.

Investigators determined the children were locked in their rooms for "extended" periods and were fed "minimal diets of bread, water and peanut butter," Raney said. They rarely if ever ventured outside, he said.

"There was documentation from the children describing physical abuse," Raney said.

Another adopted child, a 12-year-old girl, was clean and healthy, he said.

The sergeant said he didn't know if the children were related. All four were turned over to the county's Child Welfare Services.

Vasquez, 50, pleaded not guilty Monday to three counts of child cruelty. She was jailed pending a bail hearing scheduled for Wednesday, and could face 10 to 12 years in state prison if convicted on all counts, said Joyce Dudley, a Santa Barbara County senior deputy district attorney.

A call left at the home of her attorney, Daniel Murphy, was not immediately returned Tuesday night.

Authorities said there was no immediate evidence any other children were abused. They urged anyone who used Vasquez's daycare service to contact the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

The 6-year-old girl had an upstairs room in the home but told child welfare authorities she slept in a metal-mesh cabinet that measured 3 feet by 5 feet and could be secured by an outside lock.

Authorities said the boy stayed in a downstairs room that was found to contain a large bag of rotting food, a bed, toothbrush, bottle of water and a bucket he apparently used as a toilet, Raney said.

The 9-year-old girl apparently was held in a 5-foot-by-4-foot plywood room built inside a downstairs storage area and containing a window covered with wire mesh and a lockable door.

2006 Jan 11