Thomas Derrick Ross, a former street hustler who helped to transform the once-violent Southeast Washington neighborhood known as Simple City, was arrested yesterday and charged with cruelty to children, according to a police department spokesman.

Ross, of the 600 block of 46th Place SE, was taken into custody at D.C. Superior Court about 4:30 p.m. after a family court hearing on allegations that he abused a child. The charge was brought by the police Youth and Preventive Services Division, which is investigating the allegations against Ross.

The child's name was not released, and details of the alleged incident could not be determined last night.

Ross, 25, was featured in a Sunday Washington Post story that chronicled his efforts to change his life. He decided to try to rebuild his life after a neighborhood truce that ended the violence between rival factions of the Simple City crew. The factions once operated in and around the Benning Terrace public housing complex in Southeast. Police blamed the rivalry for the 1997 abduction and shooting death of 12-year-old Darryl Dayan Hall.

During the last two years, Ross has taken numerous steps to create a legitimate lifestyle. He became part of a District Housing Authority work crew that rehabilitated Benning Terrace, and he recently completed a one-year housing management internship program. The Post story also detailed the pressures Ross faced while trying to balance school, a new job and family life, which includes six children with five women.