Flood Warning issued September 21 at 8:56PM EDT expiring September 26 at 2:00PM EDT in effect for: Hillsborough
Children locked in closets and forced to sit on cans of vegetables until their buttocks became numb-- just two examples of abuse the Polk County Sheriff says two children in Lakeland were forced to endure.
Detectives from Polk County's Special Victims Unit have arrested and charged Sean Pearson, 33, and his girlfriend, Jessica Rowland, 21, with six counts of aggravated child abuse and one count false imprisonment.
According to investigators, Pearson and Rowland abused an 11-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl in their care.
According to an arrest affidavit, deputy answered went to the residence on Lazy Lake Drive East after receiving a call for help.
The 12-year-old girl told a deputy that Pearson and Rowland had locked her in a closet, shaved her head, and used other forms of “discipline” which left bruises on her.
During an interview with detectives, Pearson and Rowland admitted to other forms of abuse including covering the girl’s mouth with their hands when the girl screamed, because it “hurt their eardrums.”
It was also revealed during questioning that the two gave the girl the prescription drug Depakote and would force the pills down her throat when she refused to take them on her own.
Detectives also learned Pearson would discipline both children by making them sit on a can of vegetables until their buttocks became numb and lock the children a closet when they cried or became unruly.
The affidavit also indicates that Pearson would tie the girl's wrists together with a cloth and then tie her hands to a beam above her head.
“The abuse of these children at the hands of these suspects is egregious,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “Hopefully intervention came early enough for these victims that through proper care, they will be able to recover from their physical, emotional, and mental wounds. These suspects have no business taking care of children.”
Both Pearson and Rowland are booked in the Polk County Jail and are being held without bond.
The children are now in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.
Pearson has a prior arrest in 2005 for sexual battery and child abuse.