SEBRING — A mother was charged this week with neglect of an infant boy, three months after being accused of neglecting a 4-year-old boy who was discovered to have stomach injuries, according to a report released Friday.
Kimberly Dawn Hernandez, 23, no address given, was arrested by the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office and charged with two counts of child neglect and one count of child abuse.
Assistant State Attorney Christine Pletcher said the investigation leading to those charges stemmed from the arrest in April of Hernandez and her boyfriend, Benjamin Joshua Herrera, 28, in connection with the injuries suffered by the 4-year-old. Herrera was charged with aggravated child abuse and child neglect with great bodily harm. Hernandez was charged with charged with child neglect with great bodily harm.
In the latest case, Pletcher said, the investigation found that the infant boy suffered from injuries and was malnourished.
A direct information filed in the case says the abuse or neglect occurred between Dec. 1, 2013, and Feb. 28, 2014, and between March 1, 20014 and April 30, 2014.
It accuses Hernandez of either failing to provide adequate care for the child or to “make a reasonable effort to protect (the infant) from abuse, neglect or exploitation....”
The information also accuses her of causing physical or mental injury to the child.
In the other case, Herrera told authorities that Hernandez and he delayed taking to the 4-year-old boy to the hospital because of past dealing with the Florida Department of Children and Family Services.
Herrera had first told authorities that he accidentally injured the boy while they played football. He said that when the boy ran toward him he tackled the boy “like a normal football player would,” court documents said.
The father also said that the boy held onto his stomach for 30 seconds and whined.
But an arrest affidavit said that the injuries were “typical of high-force blunt trauma and may have been caused by being punched or kicked in the abdomen.”
Moreover, no evidence, such as trampled grass, existed on the ground of a game taking place.
Herrera told investigators that later that evening he saw the boy’s stomach and chest swelling, but even then, waited an hour before telling Hernandez they needed to take the child to the hospital.