HOUSTON -- A Spring man and his now-estranged wife face felony charges after investigators discovered his nine-year-old daughter had suffered several brutal beatings. But they're not the ones accused of hurting the child.
The suspect? Her 13-year-old step-brother.
Court records paint a cruel picture of what the couple allegedly knew was happening to the father's nine-year-old daughter inside a home in Spring.
The girl suffered severe physical and sexual abuse, including numerous severe bruises to her forehead, face, chest, back, arms and legs.
"It wasn't once, it was something that had been going on and ongoing," said Harris County Sheriff’s Spokesperson Deputy Thomas Gilliland.
Investigators caught on to the case when the parents took the girl to the hospital with a fractured shoulder. But doctors found much more--bruises consistent with high-velocity blows, and bruises of all different colors. Yet despite all the physical evidence, the couple allegedly told investigators they never believed the girl's outcries and that it was all an accident.
It's a claim supported by the mother's oldest daughter, the alleged victim's half-sister.
“I don't believe anybody hit her or did anything to her," said the half-sister, whose name KHOU 11 News is withholding to protect the nine-year-old’s identity.
"The day she went to the hospital, she fractured her arm in the bathtub, cause she was dancing in the bathtub," the half-sister said.
She claimed the accusations were all made up as a way to get attention.
"My little sister is a liar," she said.
But authorities don't see it that way. They’ve charged 13-year-old step-brother with injury to a child, and the parents with injury to a child by omission, for allegedly not taking action to stop it.
“Our number one goal in life is to protect our children,” said Deputy Gilliland.
“And when you have parents who abuse that, that's when we stepped in and took action," Gilliland said.
Child Protection officials have removed the 9-year-old into protective custody and placed her in a foster home.