PORT ST. LUCIE — He struck his 12-year-old daughter with belts because she lied, because her homework was incomplete and because “it is stated in the Bible that it is OK to spank your children,” the father told police.
The girl said she was beaten for not reading well enough, for using slang, and for “not accepting Jesus into her heart,” police reported.
After the statements, police over the weekend arrested Michael C. Bilodeau, 48, of Coral Springs, on felony charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect of a child. He was released Sunday from the St. Lucie County jail on $10,000 bail. He declined to discuss the charges on Monday.
The case began Friday night when police responded to a report of a girl begging for money outside the Walgreen Drug Store at Southwest Port St. Lucie and Bayshore boulevards.
The girl told investigators she had been sent from Coral Springs to Port St. Lucie about three years ago to live with family friends “who share the same religious beliefs and values” as her parents.
The girl said she ran away from the Port St. Lucie home about 12:30 a.m. Thursday after being spanked with a belt by a woman in the home. She said she spent the night in a vacant home under construction.
When police took the girl to the Port St. Lucie address, Bilodeau answered the door, saying he had received a call his daughter had run away and had come to Port St. Lucie to look for her.
According to police reports, Bilodeau said the girl had been sent here because she wasn’t doing well in school in Coral Springs, and because the biological mother couldn’t care for her because of “misbehaving.” The girl told police the mother “was addicted to the internet and would ignore her.”
Bilodeau allegedly admitted he “spanked” the girl a few days earlier. He had her undress and lean across a bed, then “struck her several times with a belt,” according to police.
“She needs some discipline,” Bilodeau allegedly told police.
When asked why he ordered the girl to take off her clothes before striking her, Bilodeau allegedly replied that “he wants her to feel the pain,” police reported.
Bilodeau also told police he had given the woman in the Port St. Lucie home permission to spank the girl. He said when the woman spanks the girl the woman calls him “and puts it on the speakerphone so he could listen to the spanking as her witness,” police reported.
Bilodeau told police the local woman spanked the girl four separate times the day before she ran away. Police said they plan to speak with the woman and that the investigation is continuing.
Police said they found old and new bruises to the girl’s legs, back and sides, “consistent with injuries that could be sustained from a belt.” She now is in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families.
“I think the bruises on her body pretty much tell the story,” said Officer Robert Vega, police spokesman. “This is definitely not a situation where it was just parental discipline — these people took it a step further.”