MIAMI (AP) - Nearly four years before a 10-year-old girl was found dead in her adoptive father's truck, a teacher told a Miami-Dade judge the girl was being abused at home and hit on the bottom of her feet in a way that wouldn't leave bruises, a child welfare lawyer said Tuesday.
School officials warned a judge who was considering whether to let Jorge and Carmen Barahona adopt the girl and her twin brother that the girl came to school dirty and was very thin and hoarding food in her desk in 2007. A kindergarten teacher also testified that the girl, Nubia Docter, had wet her pants one day at school, which is common for children of that age.
When the teacher told Nubia she was going to call her then-foster mother, Carmen Barahona, Nubia became hysterical and begged her not to call, child welfare attorney Christey Lopez-Acevedo told a panel investigating the girl's death Tuesday.
"Momma is going to hit me with a (flip flop) on the bottom of my feet," Nubia said when asked why she didn't want her mother called, according to Lopez-Acevedo, an attorney for the court-appointed guardian whose concerns prompted the 2007 hearing.
Lopez-Acevedo said at the time she didn't understand the seriousness of Nubia's allegation.
"I am (now) fully aware from what the experts tell me that is a sign of torture. No bruises are left," Lopez-Acevedo said through tears.
An expert panel is trying to piece together how child welfare officials missed several red flags in the twins' adoption, despite serious abuse allegations from a school teacher and principal.