MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A Milwaukee man accused of child abuse made his initial appearance in court on Thursday morning, January 16th.
Harold Bonilla faces seven charges, including first-degree recklessly endangering safety, physical abuse of a child and bail jumping.
According to a criminal complaint, Milwaukee firefighters responded to a house fire on the city’s south side just before 8 a.m. on Monday, January 13th. While officers were on the scene, the father of Bonilla indicated he “personally observed significant bruising and swelling on the…children.” When the father tried to ask Bonilla what happened, he “refused to tell his father anything.”
The complaint then says Bonilla “attempted to tell (his father) that the injuries on the…children were sustained when the children were trampled while attempting to evacuate the residence.”
The criminal complaint indicates the three children at the home were taken to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to investigate the bruising that was reported by the defendant’s father. One of the children told an investigating officer that Bonilla struck him in the face and legs because he “took the Spiderman chewable snacks.” That same child also indicated Bonilla had “burned (his) hand with a lighter and a cigarette in the past.”
The complaint says all three children had evidence of bruising and “there is concern for a strangulation event.”
Bonilla entered not guilty pleas on Thursday on three misdemeanor bail jumping counts. He is scheduled to appear for his preliminary hearing on the child abuse charges on January 27th.
Meanwhile on Thursday, FOX6 News spoke with the mother of the children. She doesn't want to be identified, but says the alleged abuse of the children is something she's never seen before.
"If it was going on before that, I wouldn`t have let him see them ever again -- and I would have gone straight to court and fought for full custody," the childrens' mother said.
The childrens' mother says she was following court orders regarding joint custody when she let her children go with Bonilla to the home on Maple Street.
"How can a father do that to his own kids? Especially when they can`t do nothing to help, to stop him from doing it. It`s just why? It`s all I can say is why? Why would he do it?" the childrens' mother said.
On Thursday, the childrens' mother was in court, trying to get a restraining order against Bonilla in the hopes of getting her three children back in her custody from Child Protective Services.
"I`m showing everything that a mother should be doing by protecting her kids, by filing this restraining order," the childrens' mother said.
The judge ordered that Bonilla have no contact with the childrens' mother or the children in any way -- while ordering a $10,000 cash bond.
"I will do anything possible to get my kids back home. And I hope he gets sentenced for a very, very, very long time because he deserves it because no kid should go through what they did," the childrens' mother said.
Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.