(10 News) - A man and his girlfriend are facing felony charges after they disciplined an 11-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl in several ways including making them sit on cans of vegetables until their buttocks were numb, according to the Polk County sheriff.
Sean Pearson, 33, and his girlfriend, Jessica Rowland, 21, of Lakeland, are charged with six counts aggravated child abuse and one count false Imprisonment. They were arrested Thursday.
The investigation began when a deputy answered a call for service at the address and the girl said that Sean and Jessica had locked her in a closet, shaved her head, and used other forms of "discipline" that left bruises on her.
Both Pearson and Rowland agreed to be interviewed by detectives, and post-Miranda, both relayed the following to the detectives:
-- They would cover the girl's mouth with their hands when the girl screamed, because it "hurt their eardrums."
-- They gave the girl Sean's prescription Depakote on several occasions, knowing that it was illegal to do so, to "calm her down" because she "gets out of control." They also would watch her because they knew she might pass out or stop breathing or have a rapid heartbeat from taking the adult prescription medication; if the girl refused to take the pills, the suspects would force them down her throat.
-- Pearson learned about forms of child discipline from reading books and "the military."
-- Pearson disciplined both children by making them sit on a can of vegetables until their buttocks became numb.
-- Pearson locked the children in the closet when they cried or became unruly.
-- Pearson tied the girl's wrists together and then tied the cloth to a beam above her head as a form of discipline.
-- The adults encouraged the children to physically fight each other, and laughed at them or made fun of them when they refused.
Pearson and Rowland have been booked into the Polk County Jail.
The children are now in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.