BRADENTON -- A 57-year-old man was ordered to stay away from his live-in girlfriend's children after being charged with beating one with a belt, according to the Bradenton Police Department.
Pablo Torres was arrested at 8:46 p.m. Thursday and charged with child abuse. Child Protective Services removed three children, including the victim, from the home following a police investigation.
At a first-appearance hearing Friday afternoon, Judge Scott Brownell gave Torres supervised release. One condition of the release was no contact with his girlfriend's three children.
Torres told the judge the children had been removed from the home, which Brownell confirmed.
"You may not have a problem going back to the home but, if the children are returned, you must leave," Brownell said.
Child neglect charges against the mother, who is eight months pregnant, have been recommended by police and will be reviewed by the State Attorney's Office.
Police were called to the apartment Torres shared with his girlfriend and her children in the 1400 block of 19th Avenue West in Bradenton on allegations of child abuse, according to police reports. The officer and a Child Protective Services investigator spoke with the child privately in a bedroom with the mother's permission.
During the interview, the child showed them a 2-inch-wide multicolored bruise consistent with a belt mark on her left leg, according to reports. The girl told investigators she got the bruise after her stepfather hit her with a belt.
She told them she gets afraid when her stepfather hits her with the belt and said she had other bruises, which investigators saw.
Torres first told investigators he never hits the children but has them stand in the corner for punishment, according to reports. After more questioning, Torres admitting to hitting the children with a belt -- only once.
Torres then reportedly told investigators the children's mother never hit them with a belt and had asked him to stop. Torres said the child is disrespectful to her mother, hits her and doesn't listen to anyone in the house and it upsets him.
Torres was asked again how many time he hit the child with a belt and he changed his story to say four to five times, when the child goes "crazy" at bedtime, the reports state.
Investigators were shown the belt he uses and how he hangs other belts on the outside of the door as a reminder to the child.
The mother agreed to speak with investigators afterward in her bedroom. Police reported she admitted knowing he hit them with a belt.
Police then asked the mother how many times Torres told her he had hit the children while she was at work and she said three to five times when he became frustrated, according to reports. Anytime she was in the room during the discipline, she would ask him to stop, she said.
When questioned why she never reported the abuse to law enforcement or did anything about it, the mother said she was unable to because of her late work hours.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter@JDeLeon1012.