Man charged after toddler's hands burned

June 28, 2010 4:19:08 PM PDT
There are disturbing allegations of child abuse against a Houston man who prosecutors say forced a three-year-old's hand into hot water. Now the child's mother says it was all a misunderstanding. It happened at a garage apartment off Long Drive. A 20-year-old mother left her three-year-old son and his two half siblings in the care of her boyfriend, who is also the father of the two younger children. Authorities say when she returned a few minutes later, the three-year-old was screaming.

Prosecutor John Jocher explained, "The child was taken to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with having second degree burns to both of his hands. When questioned about what happened, the child told his mother that the defendant told him to be a big boy when he was placing both of his hands into a hot tub of water."

As the child recovers at Memorial Hermann Hospital, the defendant is now in jail. Anastasio Quijada, 23, who lived with the child's mother and the two children they share, was arrested and charged with injury to a child. He appeared in court Monday.

Neighbors remember arguments coming from the small apartment, but the idea that a child was allegedly told to be a big boy as his hands were scalded stuns them.

"To a three-year-old, he's not even a man himself for doing that," said neighbor Natalie Cortez. "I mean, that's just terrible."

Late Monday afternoon, a woman who says she's the child's mother contacted Eyewitness News and said the story has been turned around. She says the stepfather had drawn a tub of water for the child's bath. As he went into another room to change a younger child's diaper, he reportedly heard the boy scream and returned to find the boy had stuck his hands in the tub of hot water. The remark about being a 'big boy' she claims was made during an ambulance ride to the hospital.

Three agencies are investigating the allegations -- Houston Police, the district attorney's office and Children's Protective Services. Quijada's bail has been raised from $20,000 to $50,000.


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