The 4-year-old Buffalo girl cried too much and, because of that, was repeatedly attacked and bitten by her mother’s boyfriend, authorities said Tuesday.
And it was only by chance, police say, that the girl survived.
After receiving a complaint that children were residing in a West Side home where alleged drug dealing was occurring, Erie County Child Protective Services workers found the girl nearly unconscious from internal bleeding a week ago, according to Buffalo Sex Offense Squad detectives.
“The child was in a lethargic state. If the CPS workers hadn’t shown up, she probably would have died from internal bleeding. That’s what the doctor told us,” said Detective Jacqueline Sullivan, a member of the Sex Offense Squad.
The girl has begun to recover and she is in stable condition.
Ediberto Rodriguez, 25, is accused of biting the girl some 20 times all over her body, slamming her into a wall and throwing her down a flight of stairs.
The attacks, which began March 22 and continued through March 25, were so fierce, according to Sullivan and Detective Karyn DiPaolo, that the child’s spleen was crushed, her pancreas damaged and the right side of her pelvis cracked. In addition, hemorrhaging occurred in her mouth, ears and neck.
The girl’s mother told The Buffalo News late Tuesday she had no idea Rodriguez was harming her daughter.
“I didn’t know this was going on. I trusted him with my daughter. I didn’t think he would do something like this to her. I never saw it happen. If I did, I would have stopped it,” the mother said, adding that the attacks must have occurred while she was out running errands. “I’m hoping my daughter will be able to come home next week.”
Rodriguez is no stranger to the detectives who, in addition to sexual assaults, investigate attacks on children. Last summer, he struck his 10-month-old son so hard in the head that Detective Natalie Perez placed a child endangerment charge against him.
Rodriguez appeared in Buffalo City Court on March 15, pleaded guilty to harassment and was conditionally discharged. A week later, he allegedly began the series of attacks on the girl because she would cry, Sullivan and DiPaolo said. The girl’s twin sister was not harmed. The mother, twins and boyfriend resided in a home on the 1200 block of West Avenue.
CPS workers, responding to a tip about drug dealing at the home March 26, summoned an ambulance to rush the critically injured child to the pediatric intensive care unit at Women & Children’s Hospital.
Sullivan and DiPaolo charged Rodriguez on Friday with second-degree assault.
“We believe there were multiple attacks between March 22 and March 25, and there are indications that she was injured by him a month ago from the bruises on her body,” Sullivan said.
Perez had been searching for Rodriguez since early July, when she had investigated a complaint that he had assaulted his infant son. She caught up with him last November in Erie County Family Court after he had been summoned there by CPS workers, also investigating the July incident.
Rodriguez is now being held in the Erie County Holding Center in lieu of $400,000 bail and is scheduled to return to Buffalo City Court on Thursday.
This latest case comes only weeks after two high-profile child abuse fatalities in March. In those cases, two toddler boys – one in Brant, the other in Springville – were beaten to death, and their mothers’ boyfriends were charged. One of the boyfriends told authorities that he struck the 1-year-old boy because he was crying.