A Queens couple has been arrested for allegedly starving and beating their 12-year-old daughter over the last two years. The victim, Maya Ranot, weighed just 58 pounds when police found her in May; she was lying in a pool of blood from a gash caused when her stepmother, 31-year-old Sheetal Ranot, allegedly slashed her with the end of a broken metal broom handle. It was an injury that was deep enough to reveal the bone on her wrist.
Maya was taken into protective services, and recovered enough to describe to police years of torture and neglect at the hands of her stepmother and biological father, 46-year-old taxi driver Rajesh Ranot. Among other things, they are accused of repeatedly hitting her with everything from baseball bats to wooden rolling pins; they allegedly locked her in her bedroom and starved her for "extended period of times;" Rajesh also was charged with repeatedly forcing his daughter to take cold showers while he beat her with his hands and other objects.
Officials said Maya feared coming forward about the horrid abuse because she was worried her four step-siblings would be separated and sent away. "Despite the bruising and scarring on her body which served as a silent testament to the violence and cruelty she purportedly endured, it is alleged that for a long time this emaciated child was fearful of disclosing the true nature of her injuries or those responsible for her suffering for fear that her younger step-siblings would be taken away by authorities and placed in foster care," Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. "Fortunately, she found the courage to speak up."
Rajesh has been charged with second- and third-degree assault, first-degree unlawful imprisonment and endangering the welfare of a child; he faces up to seven years in prison. Sheetal has been charged with first- and second-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child, and could face up to 25 years in prison.
Neighbors had nothing but bad things to say about the couple: "He was the kind of guy who would be your friend and smack you at the same time," a 51-year-old neighbor named Trinny told the News. “You could not trust him.” One of Rajesh Ranot’s former in-laws also told them, "It’s about time they locked him up. Everyone is afraid of him...How could he do this to his own daughter?"
Monir Uddin, a clerk who has worked for years at a Queens deli Rajesh once owned, summed it up to the Times: "These are not decent people."