Cruel and unusual punishment is what Polk County Sheriff’s detectives say a boy endured at a home in rural Lakeland.
At the hands of his own grandfather, no less.
The boy was forced to kneel on a hard bathroom floor until his knees were blistered and bleeding.
Albert Cusson, 57, and his wife, Nancy Cusson, 47, were arrested Thursday on aggravated child abuse charges and taken to the Polk County jail.
Deputies say the couple forced the 13-year-old boy to kneel with his hands behind his back from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. for 10 days straight. He was not allowed to stretch, eat or even use the bathroom.
If he moved, the boy was beaten over the back with a stick. After kneeling all day long he was forced to sleep in the bathtub, detectives said.
Detectives also said Nancy Cusson fed the boy a "protein shake" consisting of vegetables and meat each day – the only food he would get on the days he was punished.
The boy’s grandmother, Sandra Cusson, lives next door on Old Dade City Road. She said she had been trying to get authorities to do something about the alleged abuse for a long time, and she wasn’t surprised by the arrest.
“All there was, was trouble, and he ran away, ran away,” she said. “Another time he was disciplined, they put a diaper on him at 13 and made him wear it all day.”
The alleged abuse came to light when the boy was told he was going to get the kneeling punishment for 20 days for not doing his home-school work. He endured that punishment for two more days and then ran away to a neighbor’s house. That neighbor called police.
Detectives say the boy had injuries consistent with that type of abuse and that a 9-year-old girl who also lived in the home backed up his story. The girl said she, too, had been subjected to the kneeling punishment for days on end.