San Diego County Superior Court
The new San Diego County Superior Court in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A man was charged Wednesday with sexually abusing and torturing a 3-year-old boy over the course of several months while the toddler was in the care of the defendant and a woman, who is facing child abuse charges.

Marcos Javier Ramirez, 27, could be sent to prison for life if convicted of one count each of torture, sodomy with a child, committing a forcible lewd act on a child and sexual penetration with use of force.

His co-defendant, 25-year-old Vennesia Ruiz, is charged with two felony child abuse counts and faces up to 18 years in state prison if convicted.

Both pleaded not guilty at their video-conference arraignment, in which a prosecutor said they met the boy’s mother last year at a local shelter, then convinced her to let them “borrow” the toddler.

It was unclear why the boy was entrusted to the defendants, but once in their care, “they both actively tortured this little boy for months, whenever they had the opportunity to have him,” Deputy District Attorney Lucy Yturralde alleged.

The alleged abuse left the boy with “multiple injuries from head to toe,” according to the prosecutor.

According to the criminal complaint, the alleged crimes occurred between November and January.

San Diego police Lt. Shawn Takeuchi previously said the police department’s investigation began in January when the boy’s mother “suspected the toddler was being abused and called our department.”

The pair were arrested in March. Both defendants are due back in court July 28.

— City News Service