Aunt of alleged victim in ‘horrific’ child abuse case calls nephew strong, inspiring
The boy’s stepmother is accused of abusing him for years, including beatings, starvation and confinement.
HAMILTON COUNTY (WXIX) - The aunt of a boy who was allegedly tortured by his stepmother for years is speaking about her nephew for the first time, describing him as strong and inspiring.
Cheviot Police believe Amy Rodriguez Dangel abused her 13-year-old stepson for three years inside a home on Trevor Avenue. Prosecutors allege Amy beat him with belts and spoons, starved him, strapped him to a bed and forced him to stand in a corner for hours on end without access to a restroom.
Anthony Dangel, the child’s father, and a lieutenant with the Miami Township Fire Department, is accused of doing nothing to stop his wife from committing the abuse.
“It is hard to swallow that he is in a position to help people on their worst days and [was] leaving his child at home in an abusive situation,” Heather Coombs, the child’s aunt, said. “Just very disappointed and disgusted.”
Heather Coombs, the biological aunt of the alleged victim, said her sister, the boy’s mother, Lisa Dangel, died in January 2016.
“She was a great mom. She, she just loved her boys so much, and they were her priority, and you know, losing her was devastating to our family, and then ultimately, we lost her boys,” Coombs said.
For about seven years, Coombs and other maternal family members stated that they rarely saw Lisa and Anthony’s two children. Coombs said that was because Amy and Anthony kept them away.
Coombs said she heard about allegations of abuse involving the older of the two siblings in 2019.
“They were completely isolated from society. They were not in school,” Coombs said. “So teachers couldn’t see, and there was a reason for that.”
According to Coombs, not long after the official abuse investigation began, the 13-year-old was moved out of Amy and Anthony Dangel’s family home and into a group facility.
The teen wanted to locate his mother’s family members at that time, Coombs said, so a therapist helped the boy find Coombs on social media.
That ultimately led to Coombs and her two brothers reuniting with their nephew last year. Both of Lisa’s boys, Coombs said, are now in her family’s care.
“It was magical. I mean, I still get choked up,” Coombs said. “I can’t even describe it. It’s just gets me all emotional.”
Relatives have reported that the 13-year-old has a long road ahead of him because he currently walks with a limp, suffers from intense pain and has emotional trauma.
Somehow though, Coombs said he has stayed strong and was clearly fighting to survive.
“I truly do believe that my sister was always with him, helping him stand, and, you know, holding him up,” Coombs said. “I feel like that was part of his strength.”
When it comes to the case, Coombs does believe that something could have been done sooner to help her nephew.
“They didn’t dig deeper, and I think that may have led to prolonging the abuse,” Coombs said.
Although she is currently left with unanswered questions, Coombs said her family is thankful that Anthony and Amy have been arrested. She said they want to see them both, particularly Amy, pay the price for what they are accused of doing to the child.
Both Amy and Anthony Dangel are currently in the Hamilton County Justice Center on a $500,000 bond. Amy is facing 11 counts of endangering a child, while Anthony is facing one count of the same charge.
The Miami Township Fire Department has put Anthony on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
A spokesperson for Hamilton County Job and Family Services would not comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.
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