Severely abused toddler awake, stable after surgeries, family member says

Relative opens up about girl's condition, heart-wrenching case

SAN ANTONIO – It is the first encouraging piece of news in a horrifying situation. The severely sexually abused toddler KSAT has been reporting about since Tuesday successfully made it through her first round of surgeries at University Hospital.

The new information came from one of the little girl's family members. That family member said she is stable and awake after being taken out of a medically induced coma.

It's incredible news, considering the odds. The relative said the doctors initially told family members the little girl only had a 10 percent chance of living because her injuries were so severe.

The details in the warrant are gut-wrenching. The little girl, not even 2 years old, made it into the emergency room New Year's Eve with stab wounds in her private areas.

"I heard she was in the hospital, but she said it was for a dog attack," the relative said.

That's the story 22-year-old Crystal Herrera told police when she finally called for medical help. The warrant said Herrera, a relative who had custody of the girl, called police three hours after discovering the injuries.

Herrera was arrested and charged with injury to a child -- serious bodily injury -- by omission.

"It's just so shocking because I've known her since she was 16," the relative said about Herrera. "I've never seen her yell at her or even spank her, so it's just hard to grasp."

This relative last saw the child on Christmas and said there were no signs of abuse then.

"She was perfectly fine. Her normal self," she said.

Isaac Cardenas, 23, was also arrested for the crime. He was charged with super aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Though the Bexar County Sheriff's Department said Cardenas was Herrera's boyfriend, family members said they'd never seen or heard of him before.

"She has a different boyfriend. It was not Isaac. They might have been romantically involved, but that was not her boyfriend," the relative said.

The relative said no punishment could make up for what's been done.

"It's going to be with her the rest of her life. She may not remember it because of how young she is, but she's going to have scars and she's going to ask questions. And we'll have to answer those questions, but right now it's just important to be around family that loves her," the relative said.

Another family member is currently working with Child Protective Services to adopt the child. While she recovers in the hospital, family members are raising money to prepare for the girl's future medical needs. The arrest warrant said some of the child's injuries will be permanent.

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