Chief Investigative Reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.

Queens Couple Allegedly Starved, Beat Daughter With Baseball Bats, Broom Handles for Years

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    A Queens couple is accused of beating and starving their now 12-year old daughter for nearly two years. Stacey Bell reports. (Published Wednesday, Aug 6, 2014)

    A Queens couple allegedly beat and starved their now 12-year-old daughter for two years, depriving her of food and water and hitting her with baseball bats and broom handles so severely that in one case, the little girl was found lying in a pool of blood with a wrist cut so deep her tendons were visible, prosecutors say.

    Sheetal Ranot, who is the girl's stepmother, was arraigned Aug. 1 on first- and second-degree assault and child endangerment charges. Her husband, Rajesh Ranot, the child's biological father, was arraigned the same day on unlawful imprisonment and lesser assault charges.

    Prosecutors allege the Ozone Park duo terrorized the child from December 2012 to July 2014.

    According to a criminal complaint, Sheetal Ranot repeatedly hit her stepdaughter, causing bruising and pain, locked her in her bedroom and starved here for extended periods of time during that two-year span. In one case, the 31-year-old woman allegedly kicked the then 10-year-old girl in the face while wearing shoes.

    Six months later, Ranot allegedly repeatedly hit the girl with a broken metal broom handle, leaving her with a cut near her knee and a cut so deep on her wrist that her tendons were exposed and she needed to have surgery.

    Rajesh Ranot also allegedly starved the girl for years, and prosecutors say he forced her to take cold showers while he beat her with his fists and other household objects, including a baseball bat.

    In April, Sheetal Ranot allegedly hit her stepdaughter in the face with a wooden rolling pin. The girl had to be taken to the hospital, and doctors there saw she was painfully thin -- weighing 58 pounds -- and wearing dirty clothes. It wasn't clear if they contacted authorities.

    Over the next three weeks, prosecutors allege Rajesh Ranot continued to beat his daughter with a baseball bat. The girl was taken to the emergency room, where doctors noticed various bruises, marks and scars in different stages of healing all over her body. An investigation was launched and the stepmother and father were arrested shortly afterward.

    "Despite the bruising and scarring on her body which served as a silent testament to the violence and cruelty she purportedly endured, it is alleged that for a long time this emaciated child was fearful of disclosing the true nature of her injuries or those responsible for her suffering for fear that her younger step-siblings would be taken away by authorities and placed in foster care," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. "Fortunately, she found the courage to speak up.”

    Administration for Children's Services Commissioner Gladys Carrión, whose agency filed an abuse petition against the couple in family court, said, “I am deeply grateful to the Child Protective Specialists and Investigative Consultants whose diligence and professionalism saved the life of this young girl and ensured that she and her siblings were removed from this home and are now safe from further abuse."

    It wasn't clear how many other children were in the home during the period of alleged abuse.

    Sheetal Ranot is being held in lieu of $60,000 bail. She's being represented by Queens Law Associates; her lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.

    Rajesh Ranot remains in jail in lieu of $25,000 bail. He is being represented by Legal Aid, which does not comment on pending litigation.  

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