A 6-year-old abuse victim told investigators her adoptive parents forced her to eat meals in the bathroom, a Denver prosecutor said at a Tuesday court hearing.
The two women have been charged with child abuse, accused of isolating the adopted girl by locking her in her room and causing other physical injuries, including a broken arm and broken fingers.
Regina Marquez, 35, and her girlfriend, Deanna Martinez, 36, are each charged with a felony count of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, according to the Denver District Attorney's Office.
Marquez is the girl's aunt and adopted her because her biological mother could not care for the child, police said.
During the Tuesday hearing, prosecutor Anita Drasan said the girl suffers from psychosocial dwarfism, a condition where child abuse and neglect can stunt a child's growth and development, according to medical websites.
Despite being 6 years old, the girl is the size of a 2-year-old, Drasan said.
During a forensic interview, the girl said she was only allowed to eat meals in the bathroom and was denied breakfast, Drasan said. The child said Martinez would strike her.
The two women's preliminary hearing was postponed until Sept. 27.
Seeking a bail reduction for Marquez, public defender David Rosen said the woman had been working full time and often was not home to monitor what was happening. He added that Marquez regularly took the girl for doctor appointments.
A judge agreed to reduce each woman's bail from $50,000 to $35,000.
Denver police were made aware of the case on March 30, when the girl's grandmother brought her to Denver Health Medical Center.
The grandmother said the girl hadn't been in school, walked oddly and did not talk as well as a 6-year-old should.
Doctors noted that the girl had several old fractures that were suspicious and had not healed well. The girl had a broken and now deformed arm and three of her fingers on her right hand had been broken.
As police investigated, they said they learned that, before the adoption, the girl and her aunt, Marquez, had been referred to police in June 2009. The girl was 4 years old then and living with Marquez.
The girl was checked out at Denver Health in 2009 because she was losing hair and weight despite statements from Marquez that she was eating well, authorities said. She also had a broken arm, a bruise on her eye, and other developmental delays, according to an affidavit.
The case was transferred to the Department of Human Services, which then referred the case to police.
Marquez explained to officers that the girl broke her arm when she fell down the stairs while holding a box of Legos, police said.
Doctors at Children's Hospital believed that the child's hair loss was medical in nature and, because her left arm was being treated and healing, they didn't express any concern about it in 2009, the affidavit said.
No doctor, police officer or social worker ever examined the girl's hand or fingers, which at the time were broken, but only appeared a little scraped up, according to the affidavit.
No charges were filed in 2009 and DHS didn't do anything else with the family.
In October 2009, the adoption was finalized. Marquez adopted the girl and her 2-year-old brother.
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