A caretaker from Volusia County in Florida has been arrested for child abuse and battery after she forced a 16-year-old Deltona girl to sleep outside for three months.
According to Fox 13 News, authorities say 56-year-old Leasia Barwick forced the teenager to sleep outside beginning in October, after the teen had refused to surrender her passwords to her social media accounts. The arrest report states that the teen slept in a tent outside, and there were some cold nights in which the teen went without pillows or blankets.
Witnesses say that Barwick also threatened to cut off the teen’s hair with a pair of scissors, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The report stated why Barwick would sometimes not allow the teen to have a pillow or blankets when she slept outside.
“Having the bedroom in the house was a privilege.”
The tent in which the teen used when she slept outside was found with an open window, and the floor of the tent had puddles, the report claimed.
“The tent was not properly set up and the poles were not all secured.”
John Harrell, a spokesman for the Florida Department of Children and Families, said his team and the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office are now investigating the incident.
“We were very concerned when we first found out about this. This is inhumane; this should not be happening in any situation. There is no excuse for this. As far as the child having to sleep out in a tent, regarding these allegations, we’re going to be investigating thoroughly.”
Click Orlando is reporting that the teen created a Facebook page without Barwick’s permission, and she was also not performing well in school. In addition to forcing the teen to sleep outside, Barwick also spanked her with a yardstick numerous times, which left noticeable bruises on her legs. The teen was also forced to use the restroom at a nearby gas station rather than at the house at which she was staying.
The arrest report states that a 6-year-old was living in the house under Barwick’s care, along with the teenager. Harrell assured that both children are in safe hands now.
“We’re going to continue to investigate. We want to determine if there were any other safety concerns in that home. We’re also going to be [arranging] for a medical check-up for the 16-year-old to see if there’s any medical concerns.”
Barwick is out on bond as the investigation is underway.