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A Williston man has been charged with lewd and lascivious molestation on a two-year-old girl while his girlfriend was charged with neglect of a child.
Alexander Merida, 32, and Christina Morales, 28, were arrested Nov. 20 after an investigator with the Department of Children and Families was called to their residents on NE 48 Street.
According to the sheriff’s office, the investigator noticed injuries to the child's face and scheduled a medical examination the following day. The sheriff’s office was brought into the case following the exam.
Morales began dating Merida eight months ago. Prior to Merida living at the residence, a 15-year-old reported to Morales that Merida was bathing the child and she heard a noise that sounded like the child being slapped, according to the sheriff’s report.
Morales was at work at the time, but she asked Merida about the injuries when she returned home. Merida denied any involvement. She allowed Merida to move into the residence and care for the children while she worked the night shift, the report stated.
Detective Roger Bell observed obvious marks on the victim's face from the nose to her right ear. At first, Morales said the girl was injured in a fight over a toy with her three-year-old brother. After questioning Morales admitted that about three weeks ago the child defecated on the carpet and for punishment Merida rubbed the child's face in the carpet the same way one might discipline a puppy for an accident.
When Morales was questioned about scars on the child's buttocks and feet, she said the children were playing in the yard and they came in the house with dirty feet. Morales asked her son to take his sister in the bathroom and take a bath. According to Morales, her son turned on only hot water and the scalding water burned the two-year-old. Morales said she heard the baby screaming and removed her from the bathtub. Morales allegedly told authorities she neglected to provide any medical service for the two injuries because she knew that DCF would remove her children from the residence.
Upon a further medical examination, the child had bruising and marks inside her inner thigh area and also a bite mark or suck type marks around the navel area. Through an interpreter Merida told deputies he placed his mouth in the above areas and sucked hard enough to cause bruising. Merida was arrested for lewd and lascivious molestation on a two-year-old child and more charges will be filed at a later date. Merida is not a U.S. citizen.
Morales bond is $25,000 and Merida's bond is $100,000.