A Connecticut couple has been accused of punishing their 9-year-old daughter using an electric dog shock collar.
The girl’s mother stood before a judge next to her own husband, both accused of using a dog shock collar to punish the 9-year-old girl, CNN reports.
The step-father’s lawyer, Robert Kolesnik Jr., claims the girl fabricated the story to get attention. “I’m not making an allegation against the 9-year-old,” said Kolesnik. “I’m simply telling you I believe she made the story up.”
Dadbury Police found enough reason to arrest and charge the girl’s step-father, Eduardo Montanez, and her mother, 34-year-old Paula Montanez, with assault and child cruelty. Police said Eduardo put a sound-activated electric dog collar on the girl and ordered her to bark, which activated the device and issued an electric shock as punishment, Newstimes reports.
CNN’s Erin Cox reports that the defense lawyer reveals the sealed warrants detailed how a school nurse reported finding a U-shaped bruise or mark on the young girl’s neck.
Judge Andrew Roraback ultimately sided with the prosecution during the arraignment Wednesday and kept Eduardo and Paula Montanez’s bonds at $250,000 and $200,000, respectively. He set their next court date for Nov. 6 and ordered they have no contact with any of their children.
All of the children have been removed from the couple’s home – the 9-year-old victim, her 15-year-old sister and the couple’s 4-year-old daughter.
Kolesnik asked that his client’s bond be lowered and that he be allowed to appear in juvenile court in Middleton on Thursday to answer to the Department of Children and Families on the same matter. The judge declined. A review of the couple’s history proved troubling to investigators, prosecutor Colleen Zingaro said.
Paula Montanez’s two aliases and her “somewhat transient past” before moving to Connecticut from New York a year ago, where she was investigated by Child Protective Services in relation to two of her children, provided cause for the high bond, Zingaro argued.
Paula Montanez’s lawyer, Public Defender Angelica Papastavros, reacted to all the attention this case is getting. She said the mother of four “never had any issues with her children” and that she is studying to become a licensed practical nurse.
Kolesnik said Eduardo Montanez’s criminal record amounted to only one theft conviction which resulted of a misunderstanding between he and his employer about the use of a company credit card.
Zingaro called that characterization “misleading,” citing that employer’s suspicion about Montanez’s three Social Security numbers and a rap sheet that included convictions against Montanez on charges ranging from battery to drug trafficking and conspiracy to possess cocaine in New York and Florida.
Newstimes reports that a background check on Montanez turned up several aliases and police reports of both domestic violence and violence against children, Zingaro said.
Kolesnik argued that the convictions listed against Montanez in Florida were the result of a case of mistaken identity that arose when a friend of Montanez’s brother’s stole his wallet and proceeded to use his license as identification.
Zingaro rejected the claim, arguing that Montanez’s various aliases had made it “very difficult to verify his record but we have in fact done that.”
Kolesnik said, “There are three or four conflicting reports as to whether or not there were any marks on this child.”
Papastavros said, “Both these individuals enjoy the presumption of innocence and they have a right to a jury trial. We intend to fight these charges.”
“Anybody who does anything untoward to a child, as far as I’m concerned, should be boiled in oil. I don’t think these people did anything to these kids to hurt them,” Kolesnik said. “Children make things up all the time and they do it for a lot of reasons. I don’t have the reason why the child made it up. What I have is a lot of evidence that that’s what did happen.”