Child's Past Behavior May Offer Clues In Beating Caught On Tape

Video Shows Anthony Sanchez Hitting Stepson With Belt

A child's past behavior and reports of rough exchanges between father and stepson may offer new clues into a beating caught on video.

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Oscar Lopez said he still cannot believe what he saw when he looked through his upstairs window.

"I kept thinking, 'What is he doing?'" said Lopez.

Stunned, he grabbed his camera and started recording video of what appears to show his neighbor whipping his stepson with a belt in between tossing a baseball.

Lopez said it all unfolded during a 15-minute period.

"I could hear he was getting spanked time and time again," said Lopez. "It only got progressively worse."

At that point, Lopez became desperate to stop it.

"All I could do was smash the blinds and bang on the window," he said. "He looked up and we exchanged words. He basically said, 'This is none of your business.'"

Lopez ran out to confront his neighbor but when he got outside, his neighbor and the child had gone inside.

Lopez posted video of the incident on the Internet. Soon after, his neighbor Anthony Sanchez – the head of Imperial County's water district – was arrested and is accused of felony child abuse. Sanchez posted bail and then resigned his post.

His lawyers say the child was not hurt and was being disciplined for acting out.

"In California, using something other than a hand to spanking is not against the law," said Ryan Childers, Sanchez's attorney.

Neighbors, however, do not believe the incident was an isolated one.

"I always thought something was wrong," said neighbor Jacquelyn Lemus.

Lemus lives across the street from Sanchez. She said in the last few months, she has noticed odd behavior as Sanchez was driving his stepson to school.

"He would pull the kid and yell, 'Get in the car' and then 'No, I don't want to get in the car with you!' He's like, 'Get in the car!' He would pull him, hit him [and] throw him in the car," said Lemus. "I was like, 'OK, he's kind of crazy.'"

Lemus said her brother tried to play with the boy twice.

"Those two times, he tried to hit my brother," she said. "My brother doesn't let anyone hit him so he's like, 'I'm not going to play with him anymore.'"

The house has been cleaned up but neighbors say that this weekend someone had posted signs on the outside of the home that read "child abuser."

10News has also learned that the Imperial County Sheriff's Department has yet to forward the case to prosecutors for possible charges.

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