Last September, Seattle-area resident Maria Gonzales-Esquivel was arrested and charged with the starvation, torture and beating of six children in her “care.” Now the children are suing the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services for failing to protect them from years of abuse. Read about it here (Daily Mail, 6/26/12).
Over the years, DSHS received some 17 reports from teachers, neighbors, police, medical personnel and others of extreme forms of abuse resulting in lacerations, broken bones, punctured lungs and the like. The children currently range between 7 and 19 years of age. But DSHS caseworkers never intervened to stop the beatings. This was no case of “Sally slaps John who pushes her away.” This was not the type of situational violence that occurs occasionally in so many homes and usually without serious injury. No, this was what researchers now call intimate terrorism – violence used to control the behavior of the other person.
And control it she did. The children were so terrified of Gonzales-Esquivel that, when they were questioned by authorities, they invariably claimed to have a model home life of peace and harmony. That’s because Gonzales- Esquivel had threatened severe repercussions if they told the truth. Finally, the oldest girl came clean. She did so, she said, to protect her younger siblings from further harm. Apparently that was routine in their household. Older siblings sometimes took beatings with a belt from Gonzales-Esquivel that were meant for their younger brothers and sisters out of fear that the smaller children might actually be killed.
Gonzales-Esquivel apparently controlled all aspects of the children’s lives including prohibiting them from attending school, limiting bathing, eating and computer use.
Here’s how a King County prosecutor described what the children endured and what, against all the odds, DSHS caseworkers managed to ignore:
‘The known assaults in this case have resulted in closed head injuries, contusions, scalp lacerations, leg edemas, a macerated (or) swollen penis, broken fingers, eyes swollen shut, facial lacerations, a broken rib that punctured a lung, a detached retina, broken noses, and at least two surgeries,’ the prosecutor told the court in August.We all remember Washington DSHS. That’s the agency that stonewalled Solomon Metalwala when he tried to get his daughter Maile into his care after her little brother disappeared while in his mother’s care. In fact, the family courts of King County, abetted by DSHS, managed to ignore his ex-wife’s documented mental problems and give her custody solely on the basis of her transparently false claims that Metalwala was an abuser. Then, even after Julia Biryukova had arranged for their son to be kidnapped from her car, likely by her relatives, DSHS couldn’t see the obvious – that Solomon Metalwala was the fit parent of the two and their daughter needed to be with him.
‘After years of reports, the truth of these assaults is just coming to light.’
The 19-year-old was beaten on multiple occasions, leaving her face so badly broken she was ‘literally unrecognizable to those who knew her,’ the children’s attorneys told the court. The girl was left with broken bones and significant scaring after several of the beatings.
According to Seattlepi.com, Esquivel threatened to hurt the girl or her siblings if she told anyone about the horrific abuse that she and her five siblings were suffering.
The attorneys told the court Esquivel forced two of the older children to attack their younger siblings and the older children also took beatings to protect the younger children when Esquivel appeared ready to whip them to death with a belt.
Esquivel is alleged to have sexually abused at least one of the children by pouring alcohol on her genitals then forced her brother to kick her in the groin.
So it’s interesting to compare the behavior of DSHS in the Metalwala case with what it did – or failed to do – in the Gonzales-Esquivel horror. But beyond that, the taxpayers of Washington will soon be picking up the tab for DSHS’s scandalous failure to simply do its job. At least the children were only injured and not killed.
Meanwhile, there’s a person missing from the drama as it’s been presented to us by various news outlets. That’s right, there’s a father involved too, although as far as I can tell, he’s never been named and his exact relationship with Gonzales-Esquivel isn’t clear. He appears to be the father of some of the children in the house, or maybe all of them. Whatever the case, back last September, when Gonzales-Esquivel was first arrested, his plight was very much part of the news. Here’s one account (Seattle Weekly, 9/6/11).
According to charging documents, 46-year-old Maria Gonzales-Esquivel is accused of ritualistically abusing her housemate and his children from January 2009 to last month.In other words, she had them all so terrified that they allowed her to carry on her campaign of terror. It’s a classic case of Intimate Terrorism, the kind the domestic violence establishment wants us to believe that only men do to women and that is in fact the only kind of domestic violence there is. Since it is such a clear case of intimate terrorism, it’s interesting that, of all the articles I’ve read on the case, not one of them refers to Gonzales-Esquivel’s abuse of her paramour as “domestic violence.”
The alleged older victim apparently showed up to the hospital about a half-dozen times for treatment for everything from “debris” lodged in his buttocks to a ruptured eyeball, scalp lacerations, broken ribs, punctured lungs, and a “macerated” penis.
Each time, however, the victim claimed the injuries were the result of some random assault (often by homeless men in masks) and that the attack was somehow organized by his ex-wife.
Meanwhile, at least one of the victim’s children was supposedly showing up to school with open wounds. A school counselor called police with concerns that he was being abused and said that the boy’s excuses for the injuries were always changing.
Police eventually talked to all of the alleged victim’s children, and each one told tales of a perfect home life and how Gonzales-Esquivel treated them very well. But that narrative fell apart when a child finally agreed to tell police “the truth” about what was going on at the home in Auburn.
The child, a 14-year-old girl, told police that Gonzales-Esquivel told her and the other children that she was “possessed” by the older victim’s ex-wife and that this possession caused her to abuse the other members of the household.
Into the bargain, it appears that the man was in such serious financial trouble that he had nowhere else to live; for him and his kids, it was Gonzales-Esquivel’s house of horrors or nowhere. And that too raises an obvious point; where was a domestic violence shelter when he and his kids needed one? We all know the answer. There wasn’t one. Out of the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by the federal government and hundreds of millions more by states and private sources, not one is spent for shelters for men and their kids. So this nameless man was stuck in a horribly abusive situation with nowhere to go. His children were stuck there with him. Six children and one man suffered for over two and a half years for two reasons. The first is that there was no shelter for them because he is a father not a mother. The second is that DSHS ignored the obvious signs of horrific abuse, and that too may have been because the abuser was a woman.
It looks like making public policy based on ideology rather than facts has its consequences. Who knew?