A couple facing child abuse charges in connection with the death of a 3-year-old boy found earlier this month on a makeshift compound in New Mexico allegedly forced other children living at the site to clean the boy’s body as punishment—long after he’d died. A criminal complaint filed Friday revealed new charges against Siraj Wahhaj, the father of 3-year-old victim Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, and his partner, Jany Leveille. After initially being charged with 11 counts of child abuse, the pair now faces a charge of child abuse resulting in death, a first-degree felony that carries a potential penalty of life in prison. Investigators say the couple caused Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj’s death by withholding his seizure medication as they performed religious rituals on him. Court documents allege that the pair ignored the boy’s deteriorating health even when his heart repeatedly stopped beating. After he died, prosecutors say, several of the other 11 children living at the compound were forced to wash his body as punishment if they were thought to be disobeying the adults. It was reportedly washed once a week at first, and then once every two days, according to court documents.
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