7-year-old in protective care after being lit on fire
The 7-year-old boy who sustained burns after his cousin allegedly lit his back on fire is in the protective care of Mower County.
The boy’s mother, Esmeralda Rojas, appeared in court in front of Judge Fred Wellmann Thursday to admit to allegations that she is unable to provide shelter for her four children, the 7-year-old boy included. She also admitted to previously residing with a “perpetrator of child abuse.” The alleged perpetrator is Rojas’ nephew, the 14-year-old boy who reportedly smeared hand sanitizer on the 7-year-old boy’s back and lit him on fire.
Rojas, represented by Attorney Dan Donnelly, said she and her children have been staying with her mother at night because Rojas recently moved from Texas and is homeless. The burning incident reportedly occurred at her mother’s house after Rojas had fallen asleep for the night.
Mower County Human Services placed the four children in temporary protective custody due to the alleged abuse that took place at Rojas’ mother’s house.
“She’s been homeless and living with her mother in the evenings where there has been abuse by a nephew,” Donnelly said in court. “It appears mom is as much of a victim as the children in the hands of this 14-year-old.”
Rojas told the court her four children are afraid of her nephew, and sometimes she is afraid of him, too.
At the hearing Thursday afternoon, Wellmann granted Rojas visitation with her children with the goal of re-integrating them into Rojas’ home once she finds a permanent place to stay.
A hearing is set for Sept. 21 to determine the next steps in the placement process.