GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) — An adoptive couple was arrested Wednesday after Gainesville police said they tortured their adopted children.
“It’s really critical when a child discloses that they’ve been abused,” said Sherry Kitchens, president,and CEO of the Child Advocacy Center.
According to the arrest report, police responded to a call about two children, ages 8 and 10, outside an apartment complex for several hours. When they arrived, the children told police they didn’t know where their parents were and that they were abused.
“It takes very courageous children to be able to speak up when they have been abused and it takes really courageous adults to stand up for those children and get them help," Kitchens said.
The boy told investigators that him adoptive parents, Samuel Earl Hollie II, 29, and Brandi Rae Hollie, 32, didn’t like him or his sister. He said they would beat him with a belt and tree branches, hit his chest with a closed fist, attempted to drown him by strapping him down using belts or jump ropes, and forced his head into a bath tub or putting a cloth on his face and poured water on him.
“I would say these types of cases are extremely rare especially in our community," GPD Chief Inspector Jorge Campos said. "Unfortunately, this is a pretty severe case and I cannot stress the severity of the injuries these children endured. The scarring would make a parent sick to their stomach."
The boy also mentioned to investigators Samuel shocked and burned him with a stun gun, “because he was tired of me being bad,” and was also hit with the stun gun when the boy didn't do what Samuel and Brandi asked, even if he didn’t hear them.
When asked by investigators about his malnourished appearance, the boy said he was given very few meals consisting of bread and water. He also mentioned watching Samuel and Brandi eat dinner and would sometimes get scraps.
During the girl’s interview, she told investigators when Samuel and Brandi ever got mad, she was forced to sleep in the closet and was woken up by their adoptive parents when they used a baseball bat on the door. She also mentioned that their adoptive parents would hit them with the baseball bat or a belt to the point where she vomited and passed out.
The girl also told investigators she was stunned, burned by lighters and matches, and only ate bread and water. She said she would say "no" when asked if she wanted more food, otherwise she would be beat.
After being interviewed, a medical exam of the two children revealed severe scaring and bruising. One of the children was also disfigured, according to the report.
When questioned by police, the couple stated they use corporal punishment as a form of discipline and the scars were not from the discipline but rather was due to bed bugs.
The arrest report stated, before the children were adopted in 2015, their medical records showed no injuries or bruising to their bodies. The report also mentioned both children were home-schooled and isolated from others.
Samuel and Brandi were both charged with two counts of aggravated child abuse and two counts of child neglect. They were booked at the Alachua County Jail with both bonds set at $300,000.
According to police, there was a third child in the home. However, that child was not abused. All three have since been taken into the custody of family services.
Kitchens shared the long-term effects of child abuse
“We see many children here at the Child Advocacy Center that struggles with anxiety, they struggle with sleep disturbances, nightmares, flashbacks," Kitchens said. "Children can recover from abuse but they need a lot of intervention and they need a lot of help."
If you suspect a child has been abused, call 1-800-96-ABUSE