• Polk County sheriff emotional as he describes child abuse case


    POLK COUNTY, Fla. - The Polk County sheriff became emotional as he described the alleged abuse to two children that landed a couple in jail.
    They were two children punished to the extreme, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.
    Judd said the punishment included being tied up and locked in a closet. Now the children are in the custody of the state.
    Channel 9's Kathi Belich learned that the couple who were supposed to be looking after the children now faces more than a dozen child abuse charges.
    Judd said he believes Sean Pearson, 33, was fed up with the children.
    According to the sheriff, a 12-year-old girl said she was repeatedly locked in a small closet.
    An emotional Judd said Pearson tied the girl's hands together with cloth and then hung her from a 70-inch pole, and encouraged an 11-year-old boy to hit her.
    "She and the 11-year-old boy would be zip-tied together while they sat on one another's laps. When Sean was asked about this, he said incredulously, 'Well, it doesn't last all day long.'"
    Judd said Pearson's 21-year-old girlfriend Jessica Rowland shaved the girl's hair as Pearson held her down.
    He said Pearson admitted giving the girl his bipolar medication, which the sheriff said could have killed her.
    "I'm exhausted talking about the hell these children went through. It is unimaginable that they could do this to anyone," said Judd.
    A neighbor told Belich that she saw signs of injuries to the children, who live across the street, but she said she was not sure what to do about it. She said she heard a lot of screaming at the home lately, which she believed were calls for help.

    "I've been crying since they left. It's hard. Not even an animal should be treated that way. You don't do that," said Kimberly Franqui.
    Judd said the girl Pearson is accused of abusing is the same child he admitted abusing nine years ago.
    Records show previous abuse Judd spoke of happened when the girl was three. Pearson admitted to sexually abusing her, fantasizing about sex with children and talking about abducting a child from a store.

    Judd said Pearson pleaded guilty to child abuse and was sentenced to eight years of probation, which was lifted early.

    The state asked for $15,000 bond per count and the judge raised it to $25,000 charge.

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    Polk County sheriff emotional as he describes child abuse case