Tavares police: Child abuse suspect blamed 9-year-old

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Educators at a Tavares school sounded the horn to the Florida Department of Children and Families about a 9-year-old who may have been abused when they noticed bruises on the child.

The child told school officials that he had fallen, but they said they didn’t believe that story because of their training and quickly reported it to DCF.

Eyewitness News stopped by the home of the suspected abuse, when an unidentified woman began yelling and cursing at the reporter.

Police said the suspects, who Eyewitness News is not mentioning to protect the child, are both facing child abuse charges, stemming from an incident in January. Police say a woman slapped, kicked and slammed the child down. During questions, the woman blamed the child for the abuse.

Police said a man witnessed it and didn’t do anything about it and told the other six children inside the home to lie about it.

When the child went back to Tavares Elementary, school officials said they noticed bruising the shape of a hand imprint, bruising over the left eye and even noticed the child’s eye was bleeding, so they contacted DCF.

Lake County school officials said all school employees are trained each year to spot signs of child abuse.

“Our teachers are on the front lines. They’re the ones who see the students every day, much more so than those of us who work in a district office,” said Sherri Owens, with the Lake County School District.

School officials said staff members are required by law to report abuse.

The child has been removed from the home.