MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Six children have been removed from a Dakota County home amid child abuse and criminal sexual conduct charges. Investigators say the parents living in the South St. Paul home punished two of their children by withholding food from them, locking them in a room, or tying them to a pole or bed.
“This is a very disturbing case,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said.
His primary concern is to protect the children that lived in the home. The criminal complaint accuses Flor Gallegos of child abuse against two of the children.
“Allege these children were falsely imprisoned, locked in their bedroom or tied up in a basement, they were denied food. They were potentially whipped with a belt or extension cord,” Backstrom said.
At the home, Gallegos denied the allegations.
“No, no,” Gallegos told WCCO reporter Jennifer Mayerle, “I think what that is a lot of stuff is being put into the kids’ heads.”
She admitted to disciplining the children.
“I spanked them with a belt, but I’ve never spanked them with no whip,” Gallegos said.
The county removed the children from the home in November. Her husband Alfonso is accused of causing serious injury to one of the boys’ genitals.
“No possible way because my husband’s not a nasty pervert like that,” Gallegos said.
According to the court documents, the siblings didn’t report it because they didn’t want to be split up. Documents show child protective services have investigated incidents at the home several times since 2009. Backstrom said only recently investigators were able to substantiate the claims.
“We’re going to do our best to hold accountable people we believe have broken the law,” Backstrom said.
Gallegos plans to go the distance.
“I’m going to fight for my kids and going to fight hard and do whatever I need to do to get my kids to come home,” Gallegos said.
Experts said there are warning signs of child abuse to watch for:
If a child has a shift in behavior, becomes more anxious, depressed or acts out aggressively. Watch for a change in appetite or level of energy. If a child complains about their body hurting, and if they suddenly don’t want to be around a person.