Police: Florida Couple Sexually Abused Children For Years

A Florida couple has been arrested on allegations that they subjected at least three teenagers to ongoing sexual, physical, and mental abuse. The NWF Daily News reports that 49-year-old Donald Lee Ard and his wife, 33-year-old Michele Lea Ard, are accused of several crimes against the children.

Authorities became aware of the alleged abuse when three teenagers reportedly came forward with the shocking information. Police say that the teenagers made claims against the Florida couple, involving ongoing abuse of multiple varieties. The children, whose exact ages have not been clarified, allege that both Donald Lee Ard and Michele Lea Ard subjected them to violent physical abuse. Among the allegations, the Florida couple is accused of handcuffing the teens to beds and beating them “with multiple items.”

One of the teenagers claims that the 49-year-old Florida man sexually abused them along with another underage person. However, the identity of the minor hasn’t been revealed, nor has the person’s relation to the family. What has been revealed about the Florida man is that he was arrested in 2015 in association with a mass bust of sexual offenders. Donald Lee Ard was arrested during the so-called “Operation Mirage” sex sting, during which time he was accused of soliciting sex with an underage person online and traveling to meet them. He was ultimately convicted of this charge, making him a sex offender. Nonetheless, he still shared a home with multiple children — who now claim to be his victims.

The teen who alleges the sexual abuse says that there were multiple incidents. In other words, the Florida man is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting the child. This alleged victim claims that she told Michele Ard, the man’s wife. However, Ard is accused of ignoring the child’s pleas for protection from the allegedly ongoing abuse. Police say that the children were brutally beaten by the Florida couple whenever they “spoke of the abuse.”

Sadly, this isn’t the first time a couple has been accused of abusing the children in their care. Earlier this year, an Oklahoma couple was arrested in what authorities have referred to as “the worst case of child abuse” they had ever seen. The New York Post reports that 25-year-old Kevin Fowler and 24-year-old Aislyn Miller are accused of abusing their 9-month-old infant twins. Police say that the children were horribly emaciated and covered with various wounds. The wounds on one of the children were so infected, that maggots were discovered to be crawling out of one of them.

Also this year, an Alabama couple was arrested after two young children were found badly beaten in their home. The two siblings were reportedly “severely injured” in a reported sexual assault. Police say that the abuse had occurred days prior to their discovery, but the Alabama couple had refused to seek medical help for the children.

As for this latest case, The Panama City News Herald reports that the Florida couple has already appeared in court on various charges associated with the allegations made against them by the three teens. Donald Lee Ard has been charged with cruelty toward a child, molestation of a child, and violating probation. Michele Ard has been charged with child abuse. Both are currently being held on bond in the amounts of $160k and $75k. Meanwhile, the children in this case are being cared for out of the custody of the people they accuse of abusing them.

[Featured Image by Panama City Police]