Texas Dad Arrested on Child Abuse Charge Days After TV Interview Defending Himself
A Texas father accused of abusing his infant daughter — who doctors say at one point had 25 broken bones — has been taken into custody days after a warrant was issued for his arrest, PEOPLE confirms.
Police in Austin, Texas, arrested 20-year-old Joel Ortiz Rodriguez on Wednesday morning, a police spokeswoman tells PEOPLE.
He was taken to the Travis County Jail, where he is being held on a $20,000 bond. No court date has been set, and he has not entered a plea. It was not immediately clear if he has retained an attorney.
Rodriguez’s arrest comes almost a week after a warrant was issued for him on a charge of injury to a child, which is a state jail felony, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by PEOPLE.
It remains unclear why Rodriguez was not immediately taken into custody — though he gave an interview last week with a local TV station about his charge and said he did not “intentionally” try and hurt his daughter.
Rodriguez previously admitted to “pulling on [her] arms” when he was upset and had held her so tightly he heard her “bones pop,” according to Austin police.
Authorities began investigating when Rodriguez’s daughter was hospitalized in October, according to the warrant affidavit. Police were called to the Dell Children’s Medical Center on Oct. 4 where they learned that the then-2-month-old girl suffered from extensive bruising and that her pelvis, ribs and wrist were broken.
Tests showed that the baby’s enzymes were elevated, which is “associated with trauma to the internal organs,” according to the warrant affidavit. Doctors told police the baby had suffered “25 different [bone] breaks” throughout her body, including to her ribs, arms and legs, the affidavit states.
The state’s Department of Family and Protective Services soon removed the child from the home, according to police. She remains in foster care and the investigation is ongoing, a DFPS spokeswoman tells PEOPLE.
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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 told police he thought the baby was losing weight and tried to force her to eat by pushing a bottle in her mouth.
Rodriguez also told police that at one point, when the child was laying on the couch and would not stop crying, 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.
Shortly after learning he had been charged, 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.”
“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.”