Polk County Sheriff's Office / Polk County Sheriff's Office
Albert Cusson, 57, and his wife, Nancy, 47, in booking photos released by the Polk County, Fla., Sheriff's Office.
LAKELAND, Fla -- A Florida couple has been charged with child abuse after allegedly forcing a 13-year-old boy to kneel nine hours a day for 10 days in a row as a punishment for being bad at schoolwork, police said.
The boy ran down a road to a neighbor’s house on Wednesday afternoon, hobbled by blistered knees, reported the Lakeland Ledger.
According to the paper and other local news reports, Albert Cusson, 57, and his wife Nancy, 47, were jailed on child abuse charges Thursday after allegedly forcing the teen to kneel on a hard bathroom floor with his hands behind his back from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day and beating him with a stick if he moved, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
During the ordeal, according to a report in the New York Post, they made him sleep in a bathtub and fed him one "protein shake" a day containing meat, vegetables and other foods, the statement added.
According to the paper, officers said the boy had blistered knees, red marks on his back and struggled to walk when they found him. He was taken to the Lakeland Regional Medical Center for treatment.
The boy, who was home-schooled, told cops that the couple planned to enforce the punishment for 20 days in a row, the Post reported. They denied the kneeling ordeal caused him injuries, and told detectives it was, "the only punishment that works for him."
The Post reported that the pair may face further charges after a nine-year-old girl also claimed they forced her to kneel for two days straight.
Deputies withheld the name of the boy and girl and their relationship to the Cussons because of the nature of the allegations. However, News 13 TV in Orlando reported that he is the grandson of the couple.
"There is no excuse for this type of deplorable behavior," Sheriff Grady Judd said. "People who mistreat children are the worst of the worst. Jail is too good for them -- the Cussons will be more comfortable in the county jail than this little boy was when he was in their care."
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