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Couple accused of using dog shock collar on child appear in court

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DANBURY, CT (WFSB) -

A Danbury father is accused of using an electric shock collar as a form of discipline on his step-daughter, and the child's mother is accused of not stopping it.

Police said Eduardo Montanez, 43, used a shock collar, which is typically used as a training tool for dogs, on a 9-year-old girl. Police added Eduardo's wife, Paula, did nothing to stop it.

Danbury police said school officials called the Department of Children and Families last Thursday when they suspected the girl was being abused.

DCF and police investigated the incident and the Danbury couple was arrested.

Eduardo Montanez was charged with assault, cruelty to persons and two counts of risk of injury to a minor.

Paula Montanez was charged with two counts of risk of injury to a minor, conspiracy to commit assault and conspiracy to commit cruelty to persons.

Both were arraigned at Danbury Superior Court on Wednesday.

State prosecutors said they found probable cause "based on the statements of a very brave 9-year-old who had the courage to come forward after being abused at home."

"We have excellent reason to believe the 9-year-old is crying out for attention because of the family dynamic and she's fabricated allegations," said Robert Kolesnik Jr., who is the attorney for Eduardo Montanez.

Kolesnik said did not agree with the 9-year-old's statements.

"I'm not making an allegation against a 9-year-old," Kolesnik said. "I'm simply telling you that I believe she made the story up. Children make up stories all the time."

Kolesnik called his client a "hard working family man" and said these allegations are "hurtful and untrue."

"The nursing report does state no marks except for one U-shaped bruise and then the nurse later said it was a vein," Kolesnik said.

The state claimed Eduardo Montanez, who his attorney said works for a local propane company, is a career criminal and has had similar arrests for assault, battery and larceny in New York and Florida.

"He's assured me he's never been arrested on domestic violence and any of these other violent crimes, here [Connecticut], in New York or Florida," Kolesnik said.

The couple's four children, who are ages 4, 9, 15 and 18, are in the custody of DCF.

Kolesnik said other children have never reported abuse in the home.

Eduardo Montanez is being held on $250,000 bond. Paula Montanez is being held on $200,000 bond.

Eduardo Montanez's attorney wanted the state to release them and give them an opportunity to attend their child protection hearing related to the case in Middletown Thursday.

"You have to discipline your kids and keep them in line, but you don't need to put a shock collar on them," neighbor Desiree Gesualdi said.

Neighbors who live in the same Kohanza Street apartment complex were shocked to hear the news of the arrest.

"I just wanted to throw up," Gesualdi said. "My stomach hurt. That's disgusting. You don't do that to your kids or anybody."

"If they did it, they belong in jail," one neighbor said. "They need counseling because you don't do that to a child."

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