DATE/TIME: Monday, June 12th, 2006 / 01:30 PM

A couple that moved to Schenectady less than a month ago has been arrested for torturing the woman’s 4-year-old daughter in a child abuse case that veteran police and child protective officials have described as the worst they have ever seen.

Officials were first made aware of the situation Sunday afternoon when St. Clare’s Hospital medical staff contacted the Department. The couple, along with the victim and their 7- and 8-year-old sons, had been staying at the Twins Motel on State Street after moving here from Puerto Rico. On Sunday morning, 26-year-old Delia E. Hernandez brought her daughter to a church across from the motel to reportedly pray for her. Some members of the congregation noticed that the girl’s eyes were swollen shut, urged Hernandez to take her to a hospital and then them to St. Clare’s. The girl (who is not being identified) was later transferred to Albany Medical Center due to the seriousness of her injuries.

The investigation has revealed that Hernandez and 25-year-old Jose J. Munoz would punish the children by putting them into “timeout.” They made the children kneel in a corner with their hands behind their back and their head touching the wall in front of them. These “time outs” would last from anywhere from 10 minutes to an entire day. The victim was apparently abused much more often and brutally than her brothers. The boys showed no physical signs of being abused.

On Saturday, the girl urinated in her pants and was put into “time out.” When she struggled with Hernandez, Munoz stepped in and grabbed the girl’s arms. He held them behind her back and forced her to stay in the corner for several hours. Later in the day, Munoz apparently poured bleach into the girl’s eyes, causing severe burns to her eyes, ears and face. The girl also has a broken left arm and right shoulder, cigarette burns on her arms and legs, numerous bruises all over her body, especially on her back and buttocks, and extreme bruising on and around her knees due to being forced to be on them for long periods. She will have to undergo surgery on her eyes and broken bones, and it is possible that she could permanently lose her eyesight.

Hernandez and Munoz were arrested Sunday evening and charged with the felony of Assault-2nd degree and the misdemeanor of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and additional charges are expected. Both were arraigned this morning in Police Court and remanded to the Schenectady County Jail.

The couple’s 7-year-old son and Hernandez’ 8-year-old son were placed in foster care by Schenectady County Child Protective Services.