A member of the influential Imperial Irrigation District of California's Imperial Valley is under investigation for child abuse following the emergence of disturbing footage showing a man identified as Division 5 director Anthony Sanchez repeatedly striking his stepson with a belt for not being able to catch a baseball.
Imperial County Sheriff's officials would not confirm that the individual in the video — uploaded to YouTube yesterday by neighbor Oscar Lopez — was in fact Sanchez, but his identity was confirmed by IID officials.
In the video, a man can be seen slapping a young boy on his behind with a belt multiple times while the two are playing catch in a backyard in Heber — Sanchez's hometown.
The Sheriff's Office said Sanchez was fully cooperating with authorities, and the incident is currently being investigated.
His attorney, Ryan Childers, acknowledged that "what's happening in the context of the video itself is certainly disturbing," but said the Sheriff's Office needs "time to fully investigate the incident so all the facts can come to light."
Meanwhile, the 36-year-old man who brought the footage to the authorities' attention says he only began taping after things got "out of line" because he respects the right of parents to discipline their children.
"This is not just some drunk down the street," Lopez said, "this is a guy in leadership here. He is supposed to be representing the people of District 5." He added that, while Sanchez may not be prosecuted or found guilty, "but at least it got out and somebody knows."