AUSTIN - Three people have been charged after a father found two "disturbing" videos of his 4-year-old child being encouraged to fight another child, according to police.
A man reached out to police on Aug. 12 claiming that the mother of his 4-year-old child sent two videos to his mother which allegedly showed his daughter being assaulted by another child of the same age. He said his mother found the videos disturbing, so she sent the videos to him in hopes that he would report the mother, identified by police as 19-year-old Jennifer Sanchez, to Child Protective Services.
Police said in both videos, Jennifer can be heard yelling and laughing and encouraging the man's daughter to fight with other children who the father identified as Sanchez's mother's children. Sanchez's mother is identified by police as Joann Sanchez, 37.
In the first video, four young children and a teen are seen jumping on a large trampoline in the backyard of a residence located off of Stassney Lane. The man's child and Joann's child are seen being encouraged to fight by Jennifer and the teen on the trampoline. As they are seen physically fighting each other, one of the girls drags the other by her hair before she starts to cry in pain. As she is allegedly being assaulted, police said Jennifer can be heard saying, "Get up, fight back, fight back." When the girl sits up, police said Jennifer is heard yelling, "Don't ask for your tablet because you got beat up."
WARNING: The following video may be disturbing:
In the second video which police said takes place in the living room inside the residence, police said Jennifer is recording one of the girls fighting and pulling the hair of the other girl. The girls are seen punching and slapping each other in the face and head. At one point in the video, police said a male voice -- later identified to be that of Tommy Cruz -- can be heard in the background encouraging the girls to fight. Police said he later said he would reward them with a cupcake if they fought.
According to the affidavit for Jennifer, she met with CPS investigators on Aug. 16 when she said she recorded both videos. She also allegedly admitted to sending the videos to the father's mother. Jennifer has refused to speak with police. She is charged with child endangerment.
On Aug. 17, police spoke with Cruz, Joann's boyfriend, who said that he was present in the living room of the second video and that he encouraged the children to fight. He has been charged with child endangerment.
After talking to police, Joann eventually admitted that she was present during one of the recordings. She allegedly told police she felt she was teaching her child "to defend herself from bullies at school by allowing her to fight" with the other child.
The father who alerted police to the video, Augustine Amaro, told KVUE that his daughter had warned him something was going on during her visits with her mother.
Amaro said he hasn't seen his daughter since the videos were recorded in August. He said that CPS will not let his daughter stay with him due to previous drug charges.
"I love her, I have not seen her," Amaro said. "The last time I seen her she threw herself on the floor because she could not leave with us."
Amaro said he has a new job and is working on rebuilding his life in hopes that his daughter can move in with him.
CPS said an investigation is ongoing.
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