Dad ERNESTO FLORES is to stand trial for abusing his 3-year-old son and infant daughter.
Ojai man must stand trial on child-abuse charges
By Raul Hernandez (Contact) Wednesday, July 29, 2009
A judge on Tuesday called a 3-year-old boy’s statements to police “admissible and persuasive” evidence against his father, who is charged with child abuse.
In a preliminary hearing in the case against the boy’s father, Ernesto Flores, 23, of Ojai, Ventura County Superior Court Judge James Cloninger also ruled that there was sufficient evidence to hold Flores to answer to child abuse charges involving the boy and his baby sister.
The baby girl is Flores’ biological daughter, according to attorneys. Flores is charged with felony corporal injury to a child and misdemeanor cruelty to a child by inflicting injury, according to court documents.
Flores’ lawyer, Monique S. Hill, told the judge that there wasn’t any evidence of abuse of the children by Flores.
In an interview after the hearing, Hill said her client will go to trial to prove his innocence.
“There are some elements missing” in the prosecutors’ case, Hill said. She declined to elaborate.
In court, Sheriff’s Detective Albert Mesa testified that in January he talked to the boy, who had bruises around his eyes and on his nose, and very small bruises on his ears. When asked about other bruises, the boy pulled up his shirt and showed the detective more bruises on his chest area, according to Mesa.
“He stated that his papa had hit him. He was told that he was acting real bad,” said Mesa, adding that the boy repeated a similar comment when asked about the chest bruises. “He stated, once again, that his papa told him he was acting bad.”
Flores’ wife told Mesa that her husband played too rough with the children, the detective testified.
Mesa also testified that she said the boy injured himself playing with a truck and hitting his face.
Authorities allege the baby girl had bite marks on her body. Flores’ wife told Mesa that her husband had kissed the baby too hard, the detective testified.
Also testifying was Sheriff’s Deputy James Popp, who told the court that in January he interviewed the victims’ uncle, who told him that he was visiting his sister and Flores in Ojai on Dec. 23 and saw Flores kick the boy in the buttocks.
The uncle said he immediately confronted Flores but didn’t get an answer from Flores about why he kicked the boy, according to Popp.
“He could not see any reason why the child was kicked,” Popp testified.
The uncle reported the abuse to authorities after seeing the boy with a number of bruises in January and after noticing, every few weeks, that the boy had new bruising and marks on the ears and side of the head, Popp testified.
During her cross-examination, Hill zeroed in on how the investigation was conducted, questioning Mesa on whether he asked the boy who “papa” was and whether the boy knew the difference between a lie and telling the truth.
Mesa said he didn’t do either, but was certain the boy told the truth, adding that qualifying the boy as a truthful witness isn’t something detectives do in such a case.
“If you ask me for my opinion, I would say, ‘Yes,’ the boy is telling the truth,” said Mesa.
Mesa said that later in his investigation he became aware that the maternal grandparents were unhappy about their visitation rights with the children.
Under cross-examination, Popp said the kick by Flores is the only injury described to him by relatives.