A Titusville father and his girlfriend are being held without bail in Brevard County after authorities reportedly removed a 12-year-old boy who was allegedly starved and locked in a small closet in their home. The son of the 38-year-old father was reportedly taken to a local hospital where he was treated for dehydration and malnourishment after police went to the home to investigate a child abuse report. The father and his girlfriend were both reportedly arrested by police and charged with three counts each of aggravated child abuse and child neglect. During an emergency custody hearing, the boy, his 10-year old sister, and the girlfriend’s 15-year-old son were reportedly placed in the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families by Brevard County Judge Tonya Rainwater.
The couple is accused of allegedly starving the boy and locking him up as punishment for stealing food. According to police, the 12-year-old weighed only 40 pounds when he was removed from the home. The child was allegedly locked in a closet, locked in a bathroom, or strapped to a bed repeatedly over the course of the preceding year. The other two children taken from the home were also examined by physicians.
The father was reportedly investigated in 2010 for child neglect. After the allegations were investigated, the boy was allegedly taken out of the Brevard Public School system. Until this month, there was no further contact between the household and child welfare officials. Although the children are under the supervision of the Florida Department of Children and Families, they are currently being cared for by a grandparent. State officials are also attempting to locate the 12-year-old’s mother. They have reportedly located and are communicating with the father of the girlfriend’s son. The father of the 12-year-old reportedly has another child living with an ex-wife in Ohio whom he has not seen in approximately 14 years.
Few subjects are more emotional to parents than who will care for your children after a divorce or other separation. In the State of Florida, a parent who seeks to modify a child custody order has a responsibility to demonstrate substantially changed circumstances and the child’s best interests must justify any change. A family court will examine a parent’s fitness to raise the child, the parent primarily responsible for the child’s upbringing, the child’s age, and the child’s preference when considering a request to change a custody arrangement. Other factors such as the moral fitness of the parents, any evidence of sexual violence, child neglect, child abuse, or child abandonment, and various other statutory factors will also be examined.
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