The man who is accused of locking three "horribly emaciated" children in a motel bathroom for nearly a year told The Dallas Morning News that he is the one who has suffered abuse.
Alfred Santiago, 37, is accused of sexually abusing his girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter for several years and keeping her and her siblings, ages 10 and 6, in a bathroom since at least October 2008.
Police discovered the children July 2 while accompanying their mother and an uncle who drove from Ohio to check on the family. According to an arrest affidavit, the mother asked police for help in getting the children and belongings from the hotel.
Santiago told the newspaper that he is "the one who is being disrespected right now" because he is "the one who's being abused."
The 10-year-old boy earlier told investigators they were kept in the bathroom because their mother believed Santiago's accusations that the children had molested their youngest sister.
Santiago repeated that accusation to the newspaper, saying his girlfriend's children raped and poured urine on his infant daughter.
"What I was doing is protecting my baby daughter from her kids," he told The Dallas Morning News.
But Santiago also said the children's mother was the one who shut the children inside the bathroom.
The children said they would go days without food and hoarded food when they got it. According to an arrest affidavit, the children were "horribly emaciated, underweight and malnourished."
The mother told investigators that Santiago beat her and wouldn't let her feed the children more than twice a day.
But Santiago told the newspaper that the children refused to eat the food he gave them. Authorities have photographs of the "mountains of food" the children had available to them, he said.
Santiago, his girlfriend and the children lived in an extended-stay hotel along North Stemmons Freeway. The hotel has several apartment-style buildings. It has daily and weekly rates and offers maid service for an extra cost, although it wasn't clear if hotel employees had entered the unit.
An attorney for the hotel chain, Budget Suites of America, said no one complained about the unit.
"When law enforcement and management arrived ... the unit was very, very clean," said Steven Stefani, senior counsel. "What became apparent is these people worked very hard in concealing these children in the back bathroom."
Two residents said they had seen Santiago and his girlfriend around the complex. Shenika Gantt said she had spoken to the mother before, but never knew the woman had children.
Kennetha Mathis said she had seen the couple with their 1-year-old daughter.
"The only kid I knew they had was the baby," she said. "She used to bring the baby out."
Santiago is being held on $125,000 bail. He faces charges of aggravated sexual assault and continuous sexual abuse.
The children's mother is being held on a charge of injury to a child.
The mother's attorney, James Jamison, said his client was afraid to tell authorities about the abuse.
"I think it did take a lot of courage on her behalf to notify the police about this situation and bring the police to her residence to rescue the children."
The three children and their 1-year-old sibling are in temporary foster care.