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Babysitter accused of zip-tying boy, 7, to post in basement offered plea agreement

SUNBURY — There is a tentative plea agreement in a Northumberland County case in which a babysitter is accused of zip-tying a seven-year-old boy to a post to show him what it is like to be in jail.

Northumberland County District Attorney Tony Matulewicz Thursday revealed the plea offer after charges of unlawful restraint, false imprisonment of a minor and aggravated assault against Sandra Santiago, 57, of Sunbury, were withdrawn.

Santiago then waived a preliminary hearing on the remaining charges of endangering the welfare of child and simple assault.

If the plea offer is not accepted, the withdrawn charges could be reinstated, the district attorney said.

The victim’s family is aware of the situation, he said. A concern in cases like this is the effect it will have on a child if required to testify at a trial, he said.

Santiago is accused of zip-tying the boy to a metal post in the basement and forcing him to stay in a hot attic as punishment.

The investigation that led to the charges began after day care center made a child abuse complaint to the Northumberland County Department of Children and Youth on Aug. 13, 2015.

That day, according to the arrest affidavit, the boy was not permitted to go on a field trip because of behavioral issues.

Santiago picked him about 9 a.m. and when she returned him between noon and 1 p.m., staff noticed several cuts, abrasions and bruises, the charges state. His mother was shocked when she arrived, police said.  

The charges allege Santiago became angry when, against her orders, the boy scratched himself.

She is accused of taking him to the basement and tied him to a post with zip ties around his ankles, wrists, stomach and legs.

The boy told investigators she turned out the lights, yelled ghosts will come to see him and left him. He also alleged she hit him in the face earlier that day, which Santiago denies.

The boy told police he also had been forced by her to stand in his underwear in a very hot attic as punishment. She denies that also, they say.

The boy’s mother told investigators she met Santiago through Cub Scouts and she convinced her she could help with her son’s behavioral problems.

When interviewed by police, Santiago admitting zip tying the boy “to show him what it’s like to be in jail and that’s where he’ll end up if he keeps misbehaving,” the affidavit states.    

She claimed an ankle injury was caused by the boy pulling a zip tie tighter, the document states.

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