LOCKHART, Texas (KXAN) — Arrest affidavits show the people charged related to the alleged sexual assault of a 3-year-old girl at a Lockhart daycare earlier this month tried to prevent a daycare employee from accurately reporting what happened to the proper authorities.
The assault occurred on Sept. 1 at the Children’s Center of Lockhart, known locally as Connie’s Kidz. A 13-year-old was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Daycare director Connie Mendoza, 66, was charged with tampering with a witness, obstruction and failure to make a child abuse report with intent to conceal. Daycare staff worker Cristine Amaya, 34, was charged with failure to make a child abuse report with intent to conceal, and daycare owner Rafael Ernesto Santamaria Rangel, 55, was charged with tampering with a witness.
The arrest affidavits revealed Mendoza and Amaya are, respectively, the adoptive parent and sibling of the 13-year-old suspect.
The court records stated a daycare employee witnessed the assault and immediately shouted at the 13 year old to stop. The worker would go on to report the incident to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services on her own.
After hearing the distress from the employee, Amaya arrived and spoke with the 13-year-old, her adoptive sibling. The worker who witnessed the incident would explain what occurred to Amaya, who relayed the information to Mendoza over the phone, according to arrest affidavits.
At a later time, the affidavits stated the employee saw the 3-year-old victim was sent home with a grandparent and was “shocked” the incident wasn’t communicated with the family.
The day after the assault, Mendoza and Rangel asked to speak with the worker. During the conversation, the arrest affidavits stated the worker was questioned on what she was going to tell investigators. The worker told authorities “she was given coached instructions on what to say and what not to say.”
According to the affidavits, Mendoza and Rangel suggested the worker say the assault was “short in nature” and “nothing had happened due to her immediate reaction to stop the event.” They also wanted the employee to speak positively of the daycare facility, the arrest affidavits said.
They also reportedly threatened the employee’s career, saying she could lose her job and not be able to work with children again, the affidavits stated.
Law enforcement got in touch with Texas DFPS and found Mendoza didn’t report the incident until Sept. 6. During a search warrant of a cell phone, the affidavits said it was found Mendoza “had intent to conceal the event of a crime from authorities.”
The mother of the 3-year-old victim, Amber Chatelain, spoke with KXAN about what happened earlier this month. She said she found out about the assault the day after it happened when Texas DFPS notified her.
“I literally dropped her off that morning, and they looked me in my face knowing what happened the day before and didn’t say anything,” Chatelain said in a previous interview.
DFPS has been working with law enforcement on the investigation.