Two men were arrested after investigators found evidence that they were using a stun gun to discipline nine children at a home in Lakeland, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
The men’s live-in girlfriends were also arrested and accused of allowing the abuse to continue without reporting it, deputies said.
The abuse was first reported to the Sheriff’s Office in mid-July, when some of the children in the home were burned by a two-pronged device, PCSO said.
Eduardo Vazquez, 22, and William Torres-Morales, 22, were arrested and accused of using a stun gun to discipline the children over the course of several weeks, deputies said.
When the first two victims were examined, doctors said one boy had 10 burn marks on his buttocks and the other boy had 15, investigators said.
When they went to the home, deputies reported that five more children had the same two-pronged burns on their buttocks and legs.
Torres-Morales originally told deputies that the children had gotten hold of a stun gun and were using it on one another.
He told investigators that he had thrown it away to keep them from using it again, PCSO said.
Torres-Morales later changed his story and said Vazquez had been using the stun gun on the children, deputies said.
He again changed his story, telling investigators that he and Vazquez had both used the stun gun on the children, PCSO said.
Vazquez initially denied using the stun gun on the children, but later admitted that “the children needed to be disciplined" and that he "used the Taser when they acted out,” investigators said.
In one instance, Vazquez told deputies that he and Torres-Morales used the stun gun on July 16 to make some of the children do push-ups, PCSO said.
“Every time one of the children could not do one, they would use the Taser on the child,” investigators said.
Elizabeth Tarvin, 33, and Veronica Sanchez, 32, who were dating Vazquez and Torres-Morales. respectively, admitted to deputies that they knew the stun gun was being used on the children, PCSO said.
Neither was accused of using the stun gun on the children themselves.
All four adults were charged with nine counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Vazquez and Torres-Morales were also charged with seven counts of aggravated child abuse, tampering with physical evidence and two counts of giving false information to a law enforcement officer.
They were being held on bonds totaling $475,000 and $455,000, respectively.
Tarvin and Sanchez were also charged with nine counts of negligent child abuse and seven counts of failure to report child abuse.
Tarvin was being held at the Polk County Jail in lieu of bonds totaling $544,000; Sanchez was being held on bonds totaling $62,000.
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