SAN ANTONIO – A heinous crime against a young child has shaken even advocates who work daily with cases of abuse and assault against children.
“Overwhelmed. I think it's one of the worst cases I’ve heard in the six years I’ve been here at the advocacy center,” said Randy McGibeny, director of programs for ChildSafe.
Isaac Cardenas, 23, and Crystal Herrera, 22, are charged in a case involving a 21-month-old child who had been stabbed in private areas.
Herrera, described as a relative who had custody of the girl, called authorities on Saturday saying the child has been attacked by dogs.
However, an arrest warrant for Herrera says the wounds were “suggestive of sexual violence and non-accidental stab wounds.”
Herrera called for help roughly three hours after noticing the child was bleeding, the warrant states.
Cardenas is Herrera’s boyfriend.
“Whether or not it was a child chained up in their backyard or whether it's an infant who was stabbed multiple times or whether it’s a child starved and chained to a bed, these cases don’t stop coming through the door,” McGibeny said.
Cardenas is charged with super aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Herrera faces a charge of injury to a child -- serious bodily injury -- omission.
According to the warrant, some of the child’s injuries are believed permanent, while others will require reconstructive surgery.
“She's going to have to deal with and go through years of physical therapy. But just the emotional aspect is just as damaging,” said McGibeny.
Failing to speak up about abuse is a common thread McGibeny sees when someone assaults or abuses a child.
"We have to change the culture of the community, (to demonstrate) that this is not acceptable,” he said. “And it's not until we change that culture, I think, that we're going to see progress.”