POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Polk County deputy was arrested Wednesday for child abuse after authorities said he grabbed a girl by the neck during a session of “corporal punishment.”
The incident began on Monday, May 9 when Austin Moates, of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, received a call that two children were involved in a bullying incident at school.
Moates told officers with the Lakeland Police Department he brought the children home and spoke with their mother before he “spanked them with his hand afterwards for their behavior,” an arrest affidavit said.
Officers said Moates then told one of the children to go to their room, but they refused. That’s when authorities said he grabbed the child by the neck and forced them upstairs.
The child would later recall to authorities, that Moates “choked my neck and he squeezed my neck and carried me up the stairs and he wanted me to die.”
After the incident, Moates took the children to Duff Field in Lakeland where a person, who police did not identify, noticed red marks on the child’s neck. When the child was asked if Moates was responsible for the marks, they said yes.
When the person asked Moates where the red marks came from, he responded, “what are you talking about,” arrest documents alleged. Moates continued, saying he was not aware of any marks but said the child “must have done it to herself when she was throwing a tantrum [at home].”
The person asked another witness if they saw Moates force the girl upstairs earlier in the day to which the witness said, “Oh yeah, by her ne…” stopping momentarily then continuing “her arms,” according to police.
Moates was arrested Wednesday, May 18 for child abuse.
He was in the process of being terminated from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Monday morning.