UPDATE: Orange County District Attorney statement on the charges against Colin and Stuart say that he texted her instructions on how to tie down and withhold food and water from children (see end of post) . . .
A man who works with troubled children and is pursuing his masters in teaching at Cal State Fullerton was booked today on suspicion of child cruelty--two days after his girlfriend was arrested on the same charge involving her 2 1/2- and 5-year-old sons.
And now for the kicker: the wife of the married father of a 4-year-old boy and baby daughter did not know about the girlfriend until Santa Ana Police detectives came by for questioning today.
Mario Alberto Colin, 31, and Cheryl Ann Stuart, 25, were expected to be charged later today and make their first court appearance Monday.
He is not the father of her boys.
She was originally arrested Wednesday on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child and inflicting injury upon a child due to accusations that she beat, starved and tied up her two young sons so she could get a good night's sleep.
Officers went to her apartment after her landlord called police to report her little boys were rarely seen and, when they were, they had bruises.
Cops discovered the younger boy had severe bruising to his forehead and cheek, and his lips were so dry they had cracked and bled, while his older brother had swollen arms and was extremely dehydrated. Both had bruises and knots on their heads, police say.
"She tied the kids to their beds using bandages, shoelaces or chains to keep them from taking off while she slept," Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, a police spokesman, says in an Associated Press report (via KCBS). "She didn't feed the boys, especially the 2-year-old, because she was potty-training him" and was tired of changing his soiled sheets.
Paramedics took the boys to a hospital to be treated for dehydration, malnutrition and injuries. They are expected to recover.
According to the report, Stuart told police she met Colin in February and he gave her advice on how to discipline her children. That is when police believe the abuse began.
Colin worked the past four months as a behavioral technician at a Pico Rivera elementary school where he deals with kids who have temper tantrums and behavioral issues, said Bertagna, who added police will now investigate to see if any students were abused.
Not to mention Colin's own kids.
UPDATE: Orange County District Attorney's Office statement follows:
June 25, 2010
MOTHER AND BOYFRIEND CHARGED WITH CHILD ABUSE OF 2 AND 5-YEAR-OLD SONS, WHO WERE STARVED AND TIED TO BED AS A RESTRAINT
SANTA ANA - A mother and her boyfriend were charged today with child abuse against two boys, ages 2 and 5 years old, who were continuously deprived of food and tied by their ankles to a bed. Cheryl Ann Stuart, 25, and Mario Alberto Colin, 31, both of Santa Ana, are each charged with two felony counts of child abuse and two felony counts of corporal injury on a child. If convicted, both defendants face a maximum sentence of seven years and four months in state prison. The People will be requesting $250,000 bail for each defendant. Stuart and Colin are expected to be arraigned Monday, June 28, 2010, at 10:00 a.m. in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
On June 23, 2010, officers from the Santa Ana Police Department were called to a residence for a child welfare check. Responding police officers found two children who had ligature marks around their ankles and appeared malnourished and emaciated. Subsequent investigation revealed the following:
Stuart is accused of renting a room in a Santa Ana home and sharing the room with her two sons, 2-year-old John Doe #1 and 5-year-old John Doe #2. Colin is accused of having a romantic relationship with Stuart.
Stuart is accused of withholding food and starving her two sons, primarily John Doe #1, as he was potty training and she was angry that he soiled his clothes and bed. She is accused of tying the victims to their bed and crib by their ankles to prevent them from moving around the room.
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Colin is accused of exchanging dozens of text messages with Stuart and instructing her to tie down the victims and withhold food and water. Colin worked as a behavioral technician with the El Rancho School District. He was assigned to Durfee Elementary School in Pico Rivera to work with children with behavioral issues.
Both victims were hospitalized and are now in protective custody.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the Santa Ana Police Department at (714) 245-8400 or Supervising District Attorney Investigator Jamie Joyce at (714) 347-8560.
Deputy District Attorney Kathleen Roberts of the Family Protection Unit is prosecuting this case.