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HesperiaStar.com
  • COURTS

    Two charged with child torture plead not guilty

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  • HESPERIA — Two Hesperia residents arrested on suspicion of child torture and willful cruelty pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to six counts each of felony child abuse, court records show.
    San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department officials said Erik Flores, 30, and Mariah Sugg, 22, both of Hesperia, were arrested on Aug. 28 in the 9500 block of Choiceana Avenue after it was determined they were responsible for three emaciated children who were brought to Loma Linda University Medical Center in June.
    Sheriff’s officials said forensic pediatricians from Loma Linda contacted the Sheriff's Department’s Crimes against Children Detail on the morning of June 6 regarding three malnourished children, ages 4, 6 and 7. The Department of Children and Family Services brought the children to the hospital before serving a detention warrant on the father, Flores, who resides with his girlfriend, Sugg, authorities reported.
    Sheriff’s officials reported two of the children were extremely emaciated and malnourished. The 7-year-old, who is provided meals at school, was well nourished. However, he provided witness testimony as to how his siblings were being treated, as well as disclosing neglect to himself, sheriff’s officials said. The 4- and 6-year-old were admitted into Loma Linda Children’s Medical Center. The 7-year-old was examined and placed in foster care, authorities said.
    According to the forensic pediatricians, the 4-year-old victim was close to death and showed signs of sexual molestation.
    Sheriff’s officials said Flores and Sugg were interviewed by detectives from the Crimes against Children Detail. Detectives concluded the victims endured torture and willful injuries related to malnourishment, sexual abuse and failure to thrive while under the care of Flores and Sugg, authorities said. After being removed from the father and his girlfriend, the 4- and 6-year-old had both gained in excess of 10 pounds in a two-month period, sheriff’s officials said.
    Flores is being held at the High Desert Detention Center in Adelanto. Sugg is being held at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. Both are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail and facing three felony counts of child torture, and three felony counts of willful cruelty to a child.
    Sheriff’s officials said both Flores and Sugg were receiving food stamps and had the ability to properly feed and nourish the children. However, they used the deprivation of food and extreme physical workout sessions as a form of punishment.
    This is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective David Clifford at the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, Crimes against Children Detail, at 909-387-3615.
    Anneli Fogt can be reached at AFogt@VVDailyPress.com or 760-951-6276. Follow her on Twitter @DP_anneli_fogt.
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