Ex-worker at shuttered Honey Tree daycare tells of child abuse suspicions
Honey Tree Preschool owner Iliana Archuleta and brother-in-law face charges
A former employee of Honey Tree Preschool said she had suspicions that the adopted children of the owner, Iliana Archuleta, 40, might have been mistreated.
Archuleta and her 26-year-old brother-in-law, Rogelio Archuleta face charges of injury to a child.
The daycare owner was arrested Friday and released on bond the same day, according to Bexar County jail records. Rogelio Archuleta remained in custody as of Monday morning.
Both were arrested last week based on an investigation by the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.
An arrest affidavit stated that hospital workers found bruises on the youngest of Iliana’s three adopted children when he was being treated following a seizure earlier this month. The staff members also reported the eight year old boy appeared to be malnourished, the affidavit stated.
Investigators later talked to his brother and sister, 10-year-old twins, and found them also to be malnourished and showing signs of abuse, the affidavit stated.
They said the girl told them they were forced to sleep in a bathtub at home and were rarely fed. She said they were also locked in an office at the preschool all day long and not allowed to use the bathroom, the affidavit stated.
“They looked always so scared. Snack time would come, they never ate snacks there. Lunch would come. Those kids never ate lunch,” said a former employee of the Culebra Road business who asked that her identity be withheld.
"It makes me so mad because it's like, OK, should I have reported it?” she said.
The woman, who worked at Honey Tree for about a month recently, said she often noticed things about the adopted children that did not seem right, but she eventually dismissed them in her mind.
Now, she said, it’s clear that Iliana Archuleta “put on a good front,” pretending to be caring by cuddling other people’s children in the daycare, while her own were being harmed.
The ex-staff member said when she began asking questions, her work hours suddenly were cut. She eventually quit on her own.
The business, which shut down suddenly last week, will remain closed pending the outcome of the investigation, according to Mary Walker, spokeswoman for the Department of Family and Protective Services.
The children, meanwhile, remain in the custody of Child Protective Services, she said.
Walker said investigators also spoke with parents of children who attended the daycare and did not find any other reports of abuse.
Sheriff’s investigators said they are considering other arrests in this case.
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