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Couple charged in Westport with 'appalling' abuse of 2-year-old

Published 10:53 am, Friday, March 9, 2012
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Westport police have charged a New York couple with an "appalling level of abuse" of a 2-year-old boy that included using duct taped to bind him to a chair, hosing him off with cold water and abandoning for long periods of time in an effort to "toughen up" the toddler.

Patrizio Aricola, 34, of Manhattan, N.Y., and Gerriely Delacruz, 23, of Staten Island, N.Y., were each charged Thursday with risk of injury to a minor, disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment during arraignment at state Superior Court in Norwalk.

Aricola faces an additional charge of drug possession because he was in possession of crack cocaine when officers were called to a Bridge Street residence because of a domestic disturbance between the couple, police said.

Officers were called to 28 Bridge Street at 10 a.m. Wednesday, and when they arrived they found Delacruz in bed, according to the report. She volunteered that Aricola and a friend were high on crack, police said.

The friend told police that Delacruz was crazy and she tortures her son. The friend then pulled out his iPhone to show the officer three pictures of her son duct taped to a wooden chair, the arrest affidavit states.

The child, who appeared asleep in the picture, had duct tape wrapped around his abdomen and chest with a piece of tape over his mouth.

Delacruz said the two decided to give the child a time-out for 20 minutes because the child would not sit still. Aricola showed her how to tie the child down and the two went to smoke crack while the child was in the chair, she said, according to the arrest affidavit.

After taking Aricola into custody, police obtained a search warrant for Aricola's phone and obtained additional images of child abuse, according to the affidavit.

Delacruz said the two would punish the child by whipping him with a belt in order to toughen him up, police said. Delacruz also said the two would take the child to a field when he was misbehaving and desert the toddler for about 20 minutes, telling him that Aricola and she did not like "babies," police reports said.

There were also allegations the two hosed the toddler off with cold water outside during the winter and held him down in a bucket of ice water, according to police.

Judge Maureen Dennis ordered the pair held on $200,000 bond and imposed protective orders that allow no contact between them and the child. She also ordered the two to have mental health and drug evaluation and counseling.

The child has been placed in the care of state Department of Children and Families.

Dennis said the two displayed an "appalling level of abuse" toward the child, also mentioning an allegation that Aricola would drive around with the child while high on crack.

The two are scheduled to return to court March 21.