A West Chester man severely beat his girlfriend’s 9-year-old daughter as a form of discipline and left the child clinging to life with grievous injuries, investigators said Tuesday.
Dimitrios Moscharis, 34, has been charged with attempted murder, strangulation, five counts of aggravated assault on a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, and related offenses, court records show. He remained in custody Tuesday, denied bail. There was no indication that he had hired an attorney.
District Attorney Deborah Ryan said her office “vows to seek full justice” for the girl, who had injuries that doctors and investigators said were tantamount to “child torture.”
“What this child endured is unconscionable. The defendant’s depravity is beyond words and comprehension,” Ryan said. “It is the kind of criminal action that is devastating to our community and parents alike.”
The girl remained confined to a ventilator in critical condition Tuesday at Nemours A.I. duPont Hospital, Ryan said.
Moscharis’ girlfriend called investigators to her home in Westtown Township late Sunday, saying her 9-year-old daughter was unresponsive, according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest.
Initially, Moscharis told police that he was the girl’s father, and that he had been watching her while her mother was working as a Lyft driver in Northeast Philadelphia, the affidavit said. The girl suffered a panic attack, he said, and he told her to take a shower to calm down. When he went to check on the girl, he said, he found her unresponsive, and tried to rouse her by splashing water on her, and then performing CPR.
Medics rushed the girl to duPont Hospital. There, doctors saw that she was covered in bruises, both old and new, according to the affidavit, and determined that the child had serious injuries to her lungs and eye. She had suffered a “near fatality” that she is unlikely to recover from.
The injuries, according to Ryan, were consistent with oxygen deprivation, likely from being strangled.
During interviews with police, the girl’s mother told detectives Moscharis was not the child’s father, and that she had only been dating him for two months, the affidavit said. She said Moscharis had begun disciplining the girl, sometimes hitting her with curtain rods and forcing her to walk up and down the stairs with her arms extended, the affidavit said.
Moscharis also sometimes locked the girl inside a closet at the home for hours, in a form of “disturbing discipline,” investigators said.
The woman said Moscharis texted her in a panic Sunday, telling her to come home. When she arrived, she found her daughter unresponsive, and Moscharis asked her to lie and say the girl’s father had hurt her.
Ryan noted that Moscharis, the only one alone with the girl at the time, failed to call 911 for up to 45 minutes after finding the girl unresponsive.
Moscharis initially denied his girlfriend’s account, and detectives discovered he had been secretly texting her while in custody, asking her to lie for him, according to the affidavit.
Later, he admitted to disciplining the girl physically in the past as “her behavior grew harder to control,” the affidavit said. The worst of these beatings, he said, was on Saturday. But he told police he did not hit the girl at all on Sunday.