MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A man and woman have been charged with abusing and neglecting a special needs boy in the Poconos.
According to the criminal complaint, 35-year-old Raymond J. Hernandez and 34-year-old Amber L. Miller have been charged with abusing a 15-year-old boy who is wheelchair-bound with Cerebral Palsy and has a learning disability.
Police say the suspicion was raised in December 2022 and the young boy was placed into foster care in February 2023.
Several different witnesses came forward regarding their concern for the boy, according to police.
The first interview was conducted with a school teacher who has known the boy for the past four years. Police said the teacher mentioned the boy was not always wheelchair-bound, however when he returned to school in 2020 after being home during the COVID pandemic, he was not able to walk. According to police, the teacher said this would only have happened with a lack of physical and occupational therapy.
In an interview, police say the teacher said she had made several referrals regarding him being abused and neglected because he would often come in and say “Ray hit me” and show up to school with bruising on his body from apparent abuse, and injuries on his knees consistent with crawling.
Investigators said they spoke with the school bus driver who said the boy did not always ride the bus but when he did, Miller would walk him to the bus with a walker and the boy would have to crawl up the steps and into his seat while his wheelchair was sitting on the porch unused.
As mentioned by police, they spoke with the foster mother who said when he arrived he was in bad shape with rotting teeth, callouses on his knees and tops of his feet, a condition similar to diaper rash, bruising on his arm and he had a hard time reading papers without squinting bringing items close to his face.
In February 2023, police say the foster mom reached out with an update stating the boy told her one day Hernandez pushed him so hard on the bed he hit his head and had to go to the hospital, and at night Hernandez would touch him inappropriately.
Through further investigation, police say they found out Hernandez and Miller were living at a hotel for 7 months and witnesses state they saw the boy crawling across the gravel parking lot into the hotel.
Investigators say when they searched the room where the couple was staying there was an air mattress on the floor with human feces on it.
Officers mentioned in an interview with the 15-year-old, the boy confirmed he slept on the air mattress and Hernandez would punch him until he cried or hit him with a belt. The victim crawled everywhere, has not been to the eye doctor since he was five, and he does not feel safe with Hernandez, according to court records.
Hernandez has been charged with simple assault, endangering the welfare of care-dependent, corruption of minors, and several other related charges. His bail has been set at 40,000.00.
Miller has been charged with endangering the welfare of care-dependent, corruption of minors, and several other related charges. Her bail has been set at 10,000.00.