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Police: Woman chained 12-year-old maid to backyard pole

LAREDO, Texas (CNN) -- Police charged a Texas woman with kidnapping after they found a 12-year-old Mexican girl shackled to a pole in the woman's backyard.

Sandra Bearden, 28, was arrested on charges of aggravated kidnapping. Laredo police said the girl had been working as a maid for Bearden and her family since March.

Bearden is accused of beating and chaining the girl to the pole with a steel chain.

The girl was in stable condition in the intensive care unit Monday at Mercy Health Center in Laredo, where she was treated for dehydration and infections on her skin and eyes.

Investigators said the girl was covered in cuts and bruises when they found her Saturday afternoon. Doctors said the girl would not have survived another week in the conditions she was found in.

Police said the girl had been smuggled across the border to work as a maid. The Mexican government is trying to locate her family in Acapulco or Guadalajara.

Later Monday, police were planning to question Bearden's husband, Warren, a truck driver. Bearden's 4-year-old son was turned over to family members in McAllen, Texas.

A police spokesman said the FBI has been called to look into possible human-rights violations.

• Federal Bureau of Investigation

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