A woman living in Seffner was arrested on Monday for aggravated child abuse and neglect after her 19-month-old child was brought to the hospital with several broken bones. Medical personnel determined that the injuries were as a result of physical abuse that has occurred consistently for at least two months, based on the different stages of healing and acute injuries.
On Monday around 11 p.m., Veronica Rivera-Cruz, 21, her 19-month-old child to Brandon Regional Hospital for swelling she observed to the child's left leg. When hospital staff, along with medical personnel from the Child Protection Team, reviewed the child's injuries, they found the following injuries:
- Multiple bruises across her forehead that they believe were several days old
- A black eye with observed hemorrhaging to the white of her eye
- Bruising to her right cheek
- A blister inside her mouth
- A fracture on her right elbow that appears to have been healing for 2-4 weeks
- A fracture of both right forearm bones that appear to have been healing for 2-4 weeks
- An acute displaced spiral fracture of her left femur bone
- Fractures to her 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th ribs that appear to have been healing for 2-4 weeks
- A posterior fracture of the right side of her 9th or 10th rib
- A fracture to the left tibia that appears to have been healing for 6-8 weeks
- Fractured deformities to the spine humorous bone that appear to have been healing for 2-4 weeks
- A skull fracture on the victim’s periorbital bone
- A spiral fracture to the left humorous bone that appears to have been healing for 6-8 weeks
- A fracture to the victim’s right ulna bone
- Internal bleeding
In total, medical staff located four different stages of healing on the victim’s body, leading them to believe that abuse had been occurring consistently for at least two months.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, during a non-custodial interview, Rivera-Cruz admitted that she was “too rough” while changing the victim’s diaper on Monday night, which she believes may have caused the femur fracture. This occurred at the victim and defendants home in Seffner.
In addition, Rivera-Cruz told officials that she believes she may have caused the rib fractures to the victim as well.
Rivera Cruz's roommate witnessed the child on several occasions to be in pain or have visible injuries and told the defendant on numerous occasions to take the victim to the hospital or doctor, according to the arrest affidavit.
"However, the defendant failed to provide any medical attention for the victim that any prudent person would consider essential to the child’s well-being," the affidavit reads.
According to deputies, as a result of the Rivera-Cruz’s neglect, the little girl had to live day-to-day with numerous fractures to her body. The victim’s old fractures in her left arm started to heal on their own, which has caused the child to have a deformed left arm, medical professionals stated.
In addition, doctors located internal blood within the victim’s abdomen, which could have been caused by a lacerated liver or intestine. Medical staff also advised if the injuries continued to go untreated, it could have resulted in the victim’s death.
Rivera-Cruz was charged with 4-counts of Felony Aggravated Child Abuse as well as Felony Child Neglect with Great Bodily Harm. She is currently is being held in the Hillsborough County Jail without bond.
The child has since been transferred to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.