An Ozone Park, Queens couple has been arrested after their 12-year-old daughter told authorities about the abuse that she endured at their hands, including being isolated, beaten and starved down to just 58 pounds. Rajesh Ranot, 46, the child’s father, and Sheetal Ranot, 31, her stepmother, are being charged with assault and endangering the welfare of a child in the attacks on Maya Ranot. According to Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, the little girl was been seen by emergency room doctors at least three times over the past year and a half. In one May, 2013 incident, emergency medical technicians found Maya lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor, with the tendons to her left wrist cut to the bone after her stepmother allegedly attacked her with a metal broom handle.
Ranot is a yellow cab driver; city documents show that his license is active through the end of this year. The District Attorney’s office believes that he and his wife began abusing Maya as far back as December 2012. The authorities say she was afraid to speak up, for fear that her four younger step-siblings would be taken away and put in foster care.
The litany of abuse, when Maya was finally able to disclose it, is horrifying. She said that her stepmother made a habit of locking her in her room and refusing her food for what the D.A.’s office calls “extended periods of time.” In December 2012, Sheetal Ranot is believed to have kicked the girl in the face while wearing shoes, causing bruising, swelling and injuries to her eye and face.
In May 2013, after Sheetal allegedly tore open Maya’s knee and wrist with the metal broom handle, the girl was taken to the hospital, where she had to have surgery on her wrist and stitches on her knee. At the time, the D.A.’s office says, ” doctors allegedly observed several bruises, marks and scars in various stages of healing throughout Maya’s body.”
Nonetheless, the Ranots were allowed to take the girl home. She returned to the emergency room on April 16 of this year, after her stepmother allegedly hit her in the face with a rolling pin. Doctors noted then that she was extremely underweight and wearing dirty clothes.
Rajesh Ranot is also believed to have participated in the abuse, beating her with a belt and baseball bat, sometimes while forcing her to take cold showers, depriving her of food and locking her in her room.
The breaking point seems to have come on May 6, when little Maya was once again taken to the ER at Elmhurst hospital, where doctors noticed bruises, marks and scars in various stages of healing over her scalp, ear and legs.
Sheetal Ranot is charged with both first- and second-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child. She faces up to seven years in prison for the second-degree assault and 25 years for the other charges. Rajesh Ranot is charged with second- and third-degree assault, unlawful imprisonment, and endangering the welfare of a child. He faces seven years. Jail records show that the husband and wife have both bonded out of jail and been released. They return to court August 13.
If you suspect a child is being abused, call the Administration for Children’s Services hotline, 1-800-621-HOPE, or call 911. You can read about some common signs of child abuse and neglect here.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 6, 2014