Foster mother charged with child abuse counts

........................................................................................................................................................................................

A 35-year-old Peralta woman has been arrested and charged with two counts of child abuse this week following allegations she "beat" her foster children on several occasions.

The woman, Patricia Vanderwagon, was charged with two counts of child abuse after multiple visits to the home on Peralta Farms Court from Bosque Farms police and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department because of suspected abuse.

CYFD officials received multiple reports of possible abuse and conducted a welfare check on the children in late December.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Belen Magistrate Court, two of the children, ages 3 and 4, told police Vanderwagon "beats" them with a closed fist on their back and legs when they "pee in their pants."

Another child, who is 6-years-old, told police Vanderwagon gets "really, really mad" when the children defecate in their clothing. He said on one occasion, Vanderwagon put the 4-year-old outside and sprayed him with a hose on Christmas Day. The child described the day as "cold, cold." It was apparently so cold that the child was shaking, the complaint said.

The complaint said the child told police the 4-year-old had to stay outside after he was sprayed down because it was part of his "time out."

During the visits, police said one of the children had scratches on the right side of his face going from his ear to his cheek. Vanderwagon told police a door accidently hit the child and caused him to sustain minor scratches.

But a doctor from the University of New Mexico Hospital said the injuries "represented abusive trauma" rather than a result of accidental injuries.

According to the complaint, Vanderwagon told police the boy "must have" scraped his face on a door jam when the family was returning home on Christmas Eve. The complaint said the information she gave was not consistent with the child's injuries.

On Dec. 29, Vanderwagon told police she was "shocked" at allegations she abused her foster children and "unsure" why such allegations surfaced.

During another visit by CYFD, on Feb. 5, Vanderwagon "became visibly nervous" after she was asked about how she cleans her children after they defecate or urinate in their pants. She told officials she wanted to speak with her attorney before she answered any more questions.

According to the complaint, a CYFD official told police the children would be removed from the home.

Henry Varela, a spokesman for CYFD, said he could not comment on specifics of the case. He did confirm that five children were removed from the home.

Vanderwagon was arrested and charged with two counts of child abuse on Tuesday, Feb. 12. She was released the next day from the Valencia County Detention Center after she posted a $5,000 cash or surety bond.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.