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News Story
Updated: 08/20/2014 08:00:00AM

Pair charged with abusing children

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Jessica Rowland

Sean Pearson

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On Thursday, Aug. 14, Polk County Sheriff’s Special Victims Unit detectives arrested 33-year-old Sean Pearson and his girlfriend, Jessica Rowland, 20, of Lazy Lake Drive East in Lakeland, and charged both with six counts aggravated child abuse and one count false imprisonment after investigation revealed they were abusing an 11-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl who were in their care.

According to the affidavit the investigation began when a PCSO deputy sheriff answered a call for service at the aforementioned address. The 12-year-old girl told the 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. The investigation was turned over to the PCSO Special Victims Unit.

Both suspects agreed to be interviewed by detectives, and post-Miranda, both relayed the following to the detectives, according to reports:

Pearson and Rowland would cover the girl’s mouth with their hands when the girl screamed, because it “hurt their eardrums.”

They gave the girl Pearson’s prescription Depakote on several occasions, knowing that it was illegal to do so, to “calm her down because she “gets out of control.” They would watch her because they knew she might pass out or stop breathing or have a rapid heartbeat from taking the adult prescription medication. If the girl refused to take the pills, the suspects would force them down her throat.

Pearson learned about forms of child discipline from reading books and “the military.”

Sean disciplined both children by making them sit on a can of vegetables until their buttocks became numb.

Sean locked the children in the closet when they cried or became unruly.

Sean tied the girl’s wrists together and then tied the cloth to a beam above her head as a form of discipline.

Pearson and Rowland encouraged the children to physically fight each other, and laughed at them or made fun of them when they refused.

The children were also interviewed during the investigation.

Pearson and Rowland have been booked into the Polk County Jail, where they are booked without bond.

Sheriff’s office conducting fatal crash investigation

At 3:04 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 17, a 2010 gray Toyota Corolla, driven by Renee Lynn Costanza, 24, of Tessara Lane, Tampa, was traveling westbound on the four-lane divided section of State Road 60, just west of 5th Ave. NW in Mulberry; with Cheryl Anne Mullins, 33, of 10606 Stanford Road, Wimauma, as a passenger.

Based on roadway evidence, witness statements, and vehicle inspections, Costanza was traveling west in the inside lane, while Julie Ann Melvin, 45, of 199 NW 9th St., Apt. 16, Mulberry, was observed standing in the lane of travel.

Costanza applied the brakes locking the tires, but still struck Melvin. Costanza continued west on S.R. 60 looking for a place to turn around and began to search for the victim. After searching for a short period of time without being able to locate the victim, emergency responders were contacted. Costanza then pulled over and waited for law enforcement to arrive.

Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Polk County Fire/EMS were already en route to the scene as a result of another subject reporting the incident. Emergency responders attempted lifesaving measures, however, Melvin died at the scene.

Costanza and Mullins appeared to be wearing their seat belts at the time of the crash. The air bags in the vehicle did not deploy.

Westbound S.R. 60, between Church Ave. and 8th Ave. NW, was closed for approximately four hours before being reopened.

Alcohol and speed are not believed to be factors in this incident. The investigation is on-going.


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