Mesa dad accused of repeatedly abusing and neglecting his children

Officials with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office say a Mesa man has been arrested and accused of repeatedly abusing and neglecting his children.

According to a statement released Thursday afternoon, 37-year-old Giammoda Lewis Miller, who faces 24 felony charges including aggravated assault and child abuse, was taken into custody on May 2, and booked into the 4th Avenue Jail.

In addition to Giammoda, his wife, officials say 35-year-old Rafaela Miller is facing similar charges, pending the outcome of an open investigation.

The investigation, according to officials, began on April 9 when Department of Child Safety (DCS) investigators were alerted by staff at one of the victim's schools about the potential abuse. The victims were described as 12 and 14 years old. They are Giammoda's biological children, but Rafaela's step-children.

Officials say forensic interviews of the victims described incidents of being beaten with belts, a wooden paddle, being burned with lighters and incense, being threatened with a butcher knife and a "Taser-type device", and having food withheld.

The abuses, officials say, were reported to have taken place over the past three years.

When MCSO detectives served a search warrant on the Miller’s apartment in Mesa, officials say evidence that corroborates the accusations were uncovered. According to investigators, Giammoda made statements and admissions regarding the abuse and neglect following his arrest, and described his actions as “normal progressive discipline”.