SHERMAN OAKS—A married couple in Santa Maria were indicted on charges of child endangerment and child abuse on November 3. Lorena Arenas, 24, and Jose Gonzales, 41, collaborated in the infliction of burns on the hands of their 2-year-old daughter, sources at the Santa Maria Police Department say.
A second charge of child endangerment was also filed against the aforementioned defendants for allegedly leaving their other child, age 3, at home while taking the 2-year-old victim to the Sherman Oaks Hospital for the treatment of her burns.
Judge Edward Bullard, Superior Court of Santa Barbara County, convened a preliminary hearing with defendants and prosecution during which he ordered both Arenas and Gonzales to stand trial.
Reportedly, Arenas discovered her daughter playing with makeup and decided to run her child’s hands under scalding water as punishment, which caused third degree burns. Arenas apparently did this for five minutes, by which point the water had reached 135 degrees. Gonzales allegedly refused to drive his daughter to the hospital until Arenas urged him.
Detective Michael Huffman, of the Santa Maria Police Department, who testified in the preliminary hearing, claimed that Arenas had used hot water and cold water as a punishment previously.
The Arenas-Gonzales child torture case is a microcosm of a greater national problem. ChildHelp, a national organization dedicated to preventing child abuse, collects annual data on cases involving child abuse. According to ChildHelp, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. Almost five children die every day due to abuse and neglect. ChildHelp records that 31 percent of all women in prison were abused as children.
The defendants are set to return for a formal trial on November 18. More information will be made available at that time.
For questions about the case, contact Detective Michael Huffman at the Santa Maria Police Department, 805-928-3781.