A Texas father is accused of child abuse after doctors discovered last year that his malnourished, 2-month-old daughter had 25 broken bones.
A warrant was issued Thursday for the arrest of Joel Ortiz Rodriguez Jr., in Austin, Texas, on a charge of injury to a child, a state jail felony, PEOPLE confirms.
Austin police say Rodriguez admitted to “pulling on [his daughter’s] arms” when he was upset and had held her so tightly he heard her “bones pop.”
The investigation stems from the October hospitalization of Rodriguez’s daughter, according to the arrest warrant affidavit, which was obtained by PEOPLE. Doctors told police — who were called to the Dell Children’s Medical Center on Oct. 4 — that the hospitalized girl suffered from extensive bruising, her pelvis, ribs and wrist were broken and she had a cut under her tongue.
Doctors told police that tests showed the baby’s enzymes were elevated, which is “associated with trauma to the internal organs,” according to the warrant affidavit.
The state’s Department of Family and Protective Services soon removed the child from the home, according to police. She remains in foster care, a DFPS spokeswoman tells PEOPLE. The department continues to investigate.
On Oct. 6, doctors told police the baby had numerous bone injuries that were “both acute and healing,” according to the affidavit. Doctors said the baby was so small she was deemed “failure to thrive,” which is the result of inadequate nutrition, according to the Johns Hopkins Health Library.
Doctors later told police tests showed that the baby had suffered “25 different [bone] breaks” throughout her body, including to her ribs, arms and legs, the affidavit states.
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When police questioned Rodriguez, on Oct. 11, he told them he had sometimes felt “frustrated” while caring for the baby and had gotten “too aggressive” with her, according to the arrest warrant affidavit: “He admitted to pulling on her arms by her wrist to pull her to him when he gets frustrated and stated it is too aggressive.”
Rodriguez said he had held his daughter so tightly that “he heard bones pop in her chest and back area,” the affidavit states. He also told police he thought the baby was losing weight and tried to force her to eat by pushing a bottle in her mouth.
At one point, Rodriguez told police he grew so frustrated when the child was laying on the couch and would not stop crying that he pushed down on her pelvic area with his hand, using his body weight, and pushed her away from him, the affidavit states.
But Rodriguez told police he “never meant to hurt the victim,” according to the affidavit.
On the same day as Rodriguez’s police interview in October, the baby’s mother told police she had “noticed a crunching sound in her daughter’s ribs” about two to three weeks earlier but attributed it “to her daughter growing,” the affidavit states.
The mom said that around that time, the baby was beginning to have trouble eating, according to the affidavit.
She said that Rodriguez cared for the baby while she worked full-time and attended school and that she would care for the baby while he went to school, the affidavit says.
“She stated she noticed some of the bruising but didn’t think that it was anything because she nor Joel do anything to the victim,” the affidavit states.
‘Me and the Mom Should Have Been More Careful’
An Austin police spokeswoman tells PEOPLE that Rodriguez has not been taken into custody. She said the gap in time between the victim’s hospitalization and the arrest warrant is likely due to a detailed investigation.
“As with any child abuse investigation, we have to be as thorough as possible and collect all the necessary information, which can take some time,” a child abuse detective tells PEOPLE in a statement. “We will continue to work these cases diligently in order to be effective at keeping children safe.”
It was not immediately clear why Rodriguez had not been arrested in this case.
Shortly after learning he had been charged last week, Rodriguez spoke with KXAN, saying: “I just needed to control my emotions right then and there. I was changing her, and when I told [police] that, I didn’t think that they would take it like I did it intentionally to break her bones.”
Rodriguez told the station he was “never violent” with his daughter. “We never realized there was actually any broken bones,” he said.
“Yeah, I did push down on her, but I never intentionally tried to hurt her,” he told KXAN. “I didn’t think I was going to do all that stuff, but that’s what they charged me with.”
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“Me and the mom should have been more careful,” Rodriguez said. “We should have realized the injures, we should have realized when she was crying and wasn’t eating. We should have known that there was something wrong.”
Rodriquez has been able to see his daughter one day a week, he told KXAN. He said he is hoping to regain custody of the child and has been meeting with a parenting coach and baby-proofing his home.
(A Department of Family and Protective Services spokeswoman did not provide a further comment when asked about Rodriguez’s claims that he may get custody. Efforts to reach Rodriguez by phone were unsuccessful, and he did not immediately return messages.)
“With how hard I work and with everything that I’m doing to get her back, I’m pretty confident that I’m going to get her [the baby] back,” Rodriguez told KXAN. His Facebook page appears to be full of photos of him and his daughter.
“The detectives can say whatever they want, they can think whatever they want,” he said, “but I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing since day one.”