An Albuquerque court has heard horrific details of the neglect and sexual abuse suffered by a young 7-year-old girl at the hands of her parents. The court also heard how her teacher at the time repeatedly phoned police but was frustrated by the lack of action by authorities.
During her time with the young girl the teacher spoke of how the child would arrive at school wearing fake nails, high heels and makeup. She told courts of how the girl would be starving with hunger, falling asleep due to exhaustion, and wore clothes so filthy that neither the teacher nor her classmates could tell what colour they were supposed to be. Despite this, she was still often dressed with “perfect” eyeliner and other strange details, and on one particularly frightening occasion the child arrived with blood stained underwear.
“The system was failing her. I know it was. Because I called and I called. And I did everything that I was supposed to do through my training,” the teacher told the courts. “I called CYFD (Children, Youth and Families Department) because she was starving, because she was dirty, because she needed physical care. Then I called the police officers any time and every time she said that she was breaking the law.”
They are accused of prostituting their own 7-year-old daughter. Tonight our @ericazucco has live reports from district court on the outcome James Stewart & Teri Sanchez's detention hearing. pic.twitter.com/3f1Q0PAE7Z— Kasia Gregorczyk (@KasiaGTV) May 15, 2018
The teacher said that she was especially angry at how police dealt with the matter of the underwear. She spoke of how when an officer arrived and found that the teacher had removed the underwear from the young girl’s person he proceeded to dismiss the case and then threw the underwear in the dumpster. He apparently did so because the underwear had not been held in a secure environment and so could not be considered evidence.
“I was really, really angry. I was going to get into the dumpster and get them out, because that’s not OK,” she added.
The girl’s parents, James Stewart and Teri Sanchez, are accused of forcing their child to perform sex acts on paedophiles who paid the couple in return.
“Mom made me hustle last night,” the child is reported to have told her class.
Eventually the parents were arrested after a school nurse phoned the police and informed them that she believed the young girl had experienced a sexual assault. This was after the girl had stopped appearing at school for over two weeks, and her teacher had tried multiple times to get the police to act.
Today at 1:30p- preventative detention hearing continues for James Stewart & Teri Sanchez, accused of child abuse. #NewMexico Attorney General's office wants to keep them behind bars pending trial. I'll be in the courtroom & will update this thread with what happens. @kob4 pic.twitter.com/I3idLUzDu9— Erica Zucco 🇺🇸 (@ericazucco) May 14, 2018
The current hearing, which is focused on whether Sanchez and Stewart will be allowed release during the actual trial, also heard testimony on how the girl was often fed by the teacher and provided a small cot so that she could sleep while in school. She was also put to work by her parents panhandling and pickpocketing.
This case represents a horrific story of abuse, and it’s hoped that during the trial-proper more of an explanation can be provided for why the police failed to act when given so many opportunities to do so.
It was confirmed today that both parents will be denied the access to a release, and will be held in police custody, for the duration of their trial.