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Two University of Florida Scientists Accused of Keeping Their Children Locked in Cages

Two University of Florida employees are facing child abuse charges after police said they locked their children in cages while at work.

A Gainesville Police officer responded to the home of a 35-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman about 7 p.m. Friday in Gainesville after Department of Children and Families workers launched an investigation.

The 6-year-old child stated that he was being locked in a cage and left alone, telling DCF that he did want to go home because his father built a cage to lock him in while his mother worked, according to an arrest report obtained by USA Today.

The child later told police their sibling, a toddler, was also kept in a cage.

Here’s what we know.

Police find “makeshift cages” for both children in the home

The officer observed a a “large unsanded wooden enclosure” with stainless steel sliding latches on the cage door upon entering the eldest child’s bedroom, according to the arrest affidavit.

All sides of the cage were enclosed except for the side that was pushed against the wall, separating the wall and the cage by a couple inches. The top of the cage was appeared to be open.

The child, told DCF in an interview that his father had built a cage for him, saying he had been left at home with both latches locked. He stated that he was placed in the cage overnight, until about 7 a.m. when it is time for school.

The child’s mother also places him in the cage after school until his father gets home. The child shared that he has to wear “pull ups” at night, but can go to the bathroom during the day when he is not in the closure.

All comments made by both parents throughout the welfare check are unavailable, as they were redacted.

The boy later told police that their sibling was also placed in a cage in the bathroom closet. Upon further investigation, the officer found a white toddler’s crib that had been placed upside down in parent’s bathroom. A blanket and mattress were provided, in this instance.

The toddler is placed in the crib at night, with the metal springs that hold the mattress right side up. The exposed metal wiring and springs could potentially cause harm to the toddler if they tried to pull on them throughout the night, the report states.

Neither child would be able to safely escape from the enclosure given the weight and material of the enclosure. Injury or death could have occurred to either child, had they tried to escape, according to the arrest affidavit.

“I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble. I just didn’t want to be in the cage,” the child told DCF.

Both parents placed on administrative leave by the University of Florida

Both parents are each facing three felony child abuse charges, including aggravated child abuse and child neglect without causing great bodily harm, the arrest affidavit states.

The biological scientists were placed on administrative leave by the University of Florida on Monday, a UF spokesperson confirmed with USA Today.

The mother was hired full time as a university employee in June of 2019, while the father was promoted to full time two years before that, in December of 2017.

Both held various roles as temporary workers and/or grad assistants before being hired full time, the spokesperson shared.

Source: USA Today