Yesterday afternoon, a 13-year-old boy hobbled down a Lakeland road to a neighbor's house and complained of a barbaric running punishment: for more than a week, he'd been forced to sleep in a bathtub, then spend nine straight hours kneeling every day with only a single daily "shake" made of blended meat, vegetables and other random foods to live on.
Albert and Nancy Cusson admitted to administering the bizarre routine for ten days, but said it "didn't hurt" the teen and was fair punishment for messing up in school, police say.
Police haven't released the name of the teen or disclosed his precise relationship to the Cussons, the Lakeland Ledger reports.
The boy told police a harrowing tale after escaping the Cussons' home on the outskirts of Lakeland. Starting at 7 a.m. every day, he'd be forced to kneel on a hard bathroom floor, he said; if he moved, he was beaten on the back with a stick.
Nancy Cusson, who is 47, would bring him a shake in the morning with 1,200 calories worth of random kitchen ingredients blended together. And soon after his kneeling ended at 4 p.m., he'd be sent to a bathtub to sleep, he said. Albert Cussons, who's 57, planned to continue the punishment for 20 days.
Police say the boy's knees were badly blistered, his back was swollen and he was badly hobbled while walking.
The Cussons face aggravated child abuse charges, and more could be coming: police have already found a 9-year-old girl who the couple had custody of at some point who told them a similar tale of forced kneeling.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.