TARPON SPRINGS — Before Danielle Daniels left home Monday for a job interview, her 3-year-old son ran to his bedroom closet and cried for her to stay.
Daniels, 21, said she didn't think much of it at the time, leaving her son in the care of his stepfather, 23-year-old Michael Ibrahim.
But when she came back a few hours later, her son's face was badly bruised, and neither her son nor her husband could give a good explanation, according to authorities.
Daniels took the boy to Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital, where officials notified the Tarpon Springs Police Department.
A child abuse investigation began, which led to the arrest of Ibrahim on one count of child abuse.
Officers and doctors found that the boy had bruises not only to his eyes and on the left side of his face, but also on his shoulders, legs and back, a police report said.
A doctor at the hospital told police that a red rash on the boy's forehead was likely the result of being choked, as blood vessels burst from lack of air.
When interviewed, the boy told investigators that Ibrahim was responsible for the injuries and had punched him in the stomach.
Daniels believes her son. She said she loves her husband of almost one year but that he needs help if he's responsible for the abuse.
"I don't see why he would do that," she said. "He's never hit my son before. He's the one that took care of me and my son."
The boy is recovering from the bruises, Daniels said.
He has been left in the care of his mother, according to Tarpon Springs Lt. Barbara Templeton.
Ibrahim is being held without bail at the Pinellas County Jail because of an immigration hold.
A clerk at a grocery store, he is in the United States from Egypt on a work visa, according to his arrest report.
Jonathan Abel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4157.