Starved and Tortured 12-Year-Old Girl Kept Silent to Protect Siblings: DA
QUEENS — An Ozone Park couple repeatedly beat their 12-year-old daughter so severely that she had to be taken to the hospital three times and locked her in her bedroom without food or water for extended periods of time — but the girl refused to speak up to protect her siblings, officials said Tuesday.
The victim, Maya Ranot, was allegedly abused for more than a year by her father Rajesh Ranot, 46, and her stepmother, Sheetal Ranot, 31, during which time she was forced to take cold showers and beaten with a baseball bat, rolling pin and metal broom handle among other objects.
The girl — who was tortured from Dec. 2012 to July this year — was so hungry that her weight dropped to 58 pounds in the house on 96th Street near 103rd Avenue, but according to the Queens District Attorney's office, the child kept silent, fearing that her four younger stepsiblings would be put in foster care.
The average weight of a 12-year-old girl is around 90 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In May 2013, the girl, who moved into the house in 2011, had to be taken to Elmhurst Hospital after her stepmother hit her with a broken metal broom handle, according to the Queens DA’s office.
Medical personnel found Maya lying in a pool of blood with the tendons to her left wrist cut to the bone, officials said. The girl underwent surgery for her wrist and got stitches for her knee.
Hospital staff noticed bruises marks and scars "in various stages of healing" throughout her body, but Maya denied that there was a problem.
In March 2014, she told some friends at school that she was being abused, but when officials asked her if it was true, she denied it.
Then in April of this year, the girl was taken to the hospital again, after her stepmother allegedly hit her in the face with a wooden rolling pin. She suffered cuts and swelling.
During this visit, doctors noticed that she was wearing dirty clothes and was underweight, but the girl denied to them and police that there was anything wrong.
She returned to the hospital again for cuts in May 2014, but this time said she didn't know where the injuries came from, triggering an investigation.
After that incident, officials moved her to her uncle's house where she eventually spoke up about the alleged torture.
“Despite the bruising and scarring on her body … it is alleged that for a long time this emaciated child was fearful of disclosing the true nature of her injuries or those responsible for her suffering for fear that her younger step-siblings would be taken away by authorities and placed in foster care,” said Richard Brown, Queens District Attorney, in a statement.
Chris Mckniff, a spokesman for the Administration for Children’s Services, said Wednesday that “the kids are safe and are under the care of ACS.”
While in her uncle's care, she gained 8 pounds, sources said.
ACS declined to discuss whether the family had an open case with the agency.
The couple was arrested on Aug. 1 and charged with multiple counts of assault and child endangerment. The father was also charged with unlawful imprisonment.
Bail was set at $60,000 for the stepmother, who faces up to 25 years in prison, if convicted, and $25,000 for the father, who faces up to seven years in prison, if convicted. Their next court date is Aug. 13.
Lawyers for the Ranots could not be immediately reached for comment.