Prosecution witnesses took the stand in a pretrial hearing
starting last Friday to determine if there is enough evidence to
try Sylvia Vasquez (pictured) on felony child abuse charges.
Vasquez — a well-regarded childcare provider in Santa Barbara for
more than a dozen years — is suspected of mistreating her four
adopted children. The first witness against Vasquez was a
Spanish-speaking housecleaner, Fabiola Rosas de Arzate, who made
the initial report to police after working for Vasquez for one day.
When shown a police photograph of a bed-length, perforated metal
enclosure — veiled by billowing pink and blue curtains and bolted
to the wall — the housecleaner said she witnessed Vasquez’s
six-year-old daughter being locked in there as a disciplinary
measure. Rosas de Arzate also described a small room where she
believed a nine-year-old girl was kept all day with nothing to eat
or drink and a bucket for a toilet, which the girl emptied and
washed when she was released for about 10 minutes in the late

William Vasquez — Vasquez’s grown son — acknowledged that
buckets were provided for the three adopted children who were
locked into their rooms at night. However, he insisted that the
witness was wrong and the four children — two sets of siblings aged
6 through 14 — were neither abused nor neglected. Rather, he said,
three of the four were locked in at night because of severe
behavioral problems exacerbated by years in unstable foster care
situations and several failed adoptions. A live-in governess who
slept in the locked room with the nine-year-old is expected to be
called this week by the prosecution.


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