LAKELAND, Fla. - Police said two children were locked in closets and forced by two adults to sit on cans of vegetables until their buttocks became numb.
Sean Pearson, 33, and his girlfriend, Jessica Rowland, 21, were charged with six counts of aggravated child abuse and one count false imprisonment, police in Florida said.
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, police 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, WFTS reported.
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 couple gave the girl the prescription drug Depakote (a seizure medication) 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.