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Teens forced to kneel in raw rice, beaten with electrical cord, police say

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HOUSTON – By Kim Rogers -- Click2Houston.com Staff

A couple is accused of forcing two teens to kneel on raw rice and beating them with an electrical cord as a form of household punishment.

Veronica Salgado, 35, and Rene Melendez, 34, have been arrested and are charged with injury to a child under 15 with bodily injury and assault of a family member in an incident on June 2, 2015.

They each posted a $6,500 bond.

Police were called after the teens, ages 16 and 13, told Salgado's ex-husband about the incident. He told an investigator that the 13-year-old was forced to kneel on raw rice grains holding heavy books, and that whenever he dropped a book, Melendez would beat the child with an electrical cord while Salgado looked on.

Court documents said the boy claimed Salgado eventually stepped in to stop the punishment, which the teen told an interviewer was a response to leaving a cereal bowl in his bedroom.

The 16-year-old said in a forensics interview that he had suffered the same punishment in the past, along with other abuses, according to court documents. He said the most memorable incident was in ninth grade when he alleges Melendez hit him with a PS3 cord, dragged him out of bed and "stomped" on his head; and Salgado beat him, kicked him, and threatened to cut off his "groin," wielding a knife and cutting his hand, court documents said.

Salgado denied the last two of those allegations, as well as others, saying the boy grabbed a knife and cut himself when she tried to take it from him. However, police said she did admit to using an electrical cord and rice to punish the boys, saying she was punished that way as a child.

According to court documents, both children were physically examined at Texas Children's Hospital shortly after the incident and were diagnosed with chronic physical abuse and child torture.

The couple is not currently in custody, but both have an open warrant out for their arrest.