Rebecca Faulk’s eighth-grade science classroom faced south in 2008. In the light that poured in through the windows of the school in Craig, she noticed changes in one of her students.
The teenage boy was thinner and paler than he was as a seventh-grader. And Faulk saw what looked like bruises around his eyes.
“I can ... still see his eyes,” she testified Tuesday in an El Paso County courtroom where Jeremiah Lovato is on trial, accused of brutally beating his adopted son.
Lovato, a Colorado Department of Transportation worker, faces 24 charges, including child abuse, assault and sexual assault.
The Gazette, which does not normally name sexual assault victims, is withholding the boy’s name.
Last week, the teenager told jurors Lovato punched him and beat him regularly for two years with a wooden club, meat tenderizer and belt whenever he displeased Lovato.
Lovato is charged with sexual assault for allegedly stomping on the boy’s genitals during one beating.
The teenager escaped Lovato’s house on Jan. 3, 2010, after being told to get a piece of wood for another beating, prosecutors said. Instead, he sought help from a neighbor.
Lovato’s attorney, Shimon Kohn, had conceded Lovato had limited parenting skills and had difficulty dealing with the boy’s emotional and behavioral problems. He denied, however, that Lovato is guilty of all 24 charges.
Several teachers testified, though, that they saw signs of child abuse while the boy was attending classes in Craig and reported their suspicions to the Moffat County Department of Social Services.
Moffat County social services received four reports of suspected abuse and at least 20 phone calls about the boy, Moffat County case worker Audrey Amadei testified.
Amadei said she investigated the claims, but had to drop it for lack of evidence of child abuse after the boy denied being beaten.
In March, Amadei and another caseworker visited the boy’s house after he missed six days of school and concerned teachers continued to call.
“We had very significant concerns at this point,” Amadei testified.
They were to meet Lovato and the boy at Craig Middle School after the home visit to discuss the teenager’s condition.
The meeting never happened. Lovato cancelled and registered the teenager to be home-schooled. He and the boy later moved to El Paso County before being contacted again by Moffat County social service workers.
Call the writer at 476-1654.