LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Less than a week after her son was arrested on two counts of child abuse, one grieving mother spent the Fourth of July holiday defending his name.
Nineteen-year-old Tezcatlipoca Soto is behind bars after police say he abused his girlfriend's two-year-old son.
“My son has never been aggressive to this child at any given time in the two years that they’ve been together," said Michelle Lascano, Soto's mother. "He’s never hit this kid, ever. “
Officials say Soto has been in a relationship with the victim's mother, Sarahi Martinez, for about two years. He is not related to the child.
Courts documents state Soto took care of the victim while Martinez was at work and was bathing the child on Thursday, June 29, when the abuse allegedly occurred.
Soto stated the victim got soap in his eye and began to cry uncontrollably, making Soto angry.
Authorities say Soto placed the boy's face on the ground and pushed the child's face into the bathroom tile.
Court documents say that the victim had bruising and abrasions to his face and legs, consistent with being stuck or slapped by either a hand or another object.
The child also had a circular injury above his genitalia, which courts documents allege are consistent with a cigarette burn.
Lascano told ABC-7 that she was the one who found the injuries when she was changing the boy's clothes.
"Who could do this to a child?" she asked. "He’s two years old - but I know it wasn’t my son.”
Upon finding the injuries, she said she immediately took the boy to the hospital to report the child abuse.
“Let me tell you, it was a hard decision, because my son’s paying for it," Lascano said. "Nobody, nobody will ever know the pain that I feel for this child. And as a mother, nobody will ever know my pain because my son is behind bars being threatened for something he didn’t even do.”
Lascano said she also found several errors in the police report, including one that incorrectly identified her as Michelle Martinez. She also said the report includes an inaccurate home address.
ABC-7 reached out to Las Cruces police for comment. A spokesperson released a statement, that read, in part:
"Las Cruces Police arrested a suspect on Child Abuse charges. The criminal complaint and the statement of facts are subject to amendments prior to being heard by a Grand Jury.
The Las Cruces Police Department would like to thank the reporting party for bringing this case forward. Without caring people, child abuse cases would go unreported. This child was rescued from abuse and demonstrates the greatness of our community members."