TAMPA, Fla. - A 32-year-old man told Tampa police officers he was possessed by spirits when burned a teen boy with a lit cigar during a religious ceremony known as Santeria.
Investigators say Jaime Javier Amoguea Fonseca, who was born in Panama and lives in Plant City, has been charged with child abuse/torture for lifting the victim's shirt and intentionally burning his bare back.
It happened after 1 a.m. Dec. 12 at the home of the victim's mother, in Tampa. The victim, a 14-year-old boy, apparently called police after being burned by Amoguea, who was described as an acquaintance of the victim's mother, who was born in Peru.
The victim told police when he came home that night, his mother was having a spiritual gathering at her house and had multiple people over to attend.
The boy told the responding officer he does not participate in Santaria ceremonies and was not a willing participant in this one.
In an arrest report, the officer wrote that he saw the burn on the victim's back and it was consistent with being burned by a cigar, including a raised patch of red skin and an open wound.
Amoguea Fonseca told the officer he was possessed by spirits during the Santeria ceremony and the victim accidentally brushed against his lit cigar while he walked passed him.
The victim's mother backed up Amoguea Fonseca's claim, saying her son had not been harmed, despite being shown the burn on the victim's back, according to the arresting officer. The mother allegedly said she did not see a wound.
The officer said the mother went inside and brought out a bundle of smoldering sage, which she said was being used for "cleansing the body during the ceremony," and said her son must have come into contact with it.
The officer said he put the lit sage onto his arm to try and replicate the victim's injury but was unsuccessful.
Jaime Javier Amoguea Fonseca was arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse/torture. Police say he did not have any previous criminal history.
The victim did not need medical attention, however, two days after the incident, an officer called to arrange a meeting with representatives from child protective services, but was told the victim would not participate.
The officer said he spoke to the victim's mother first, and then the victim, who said he had been speaking
to his "attorney friends" about dropping the charges.
The victim apparently told the officer he now believed the suspect's actions were an accident
"He then told me that he does not expect me to understand his religion, but he knows now this was an accident. He told me he would not go to a doctor about this and does not desire prosecution," the officer wrote in the affidavit.