Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies have charged a Boynton Beach man with three counts of cruelty to a child and aggravated child abuse after a toddler in his care was allegedly scalded in a hot bathtub.
Two other children, ages 6 and 9, also said they had been abused by the man in the house as they told deputies of punishments that ranged from punches to the chest to having to stand in front of a wall for an entire night.
The injuries suffered by the 2-year-old, which led to the arrest and charges for Lee Higgins on Wednesday, include severe burns to his feet. The wounds included "halo orange-sized" blistering and skin peeling off both feet, and internal injuries from strikes to his abdomen that left "purple knuckle-like bruises," The Palm Beach Post reports.
According to the report, the siblings told deputies that Higgins, 24, put the toddler in the bath while they were dressing for school and they heard the sounds of shouting and hitting coming from the bathroom.
The 6-year-old and 9-year-old independently told detectives that they saw Higgins dragging the toddler out of the bathroom as skin fell off the boy's right foot. They say he used scissors to cut off the hanging skin.
According to Palm Beach deputies, Higgins' description of the events didn't match that of the older children. Deputies say Higgins told them he had ordered the two children to draw a bath for the toddler after he had soiled himself at some time during the night. He said he heard a commotion coming from the bathroom as he made breakfast and went to investigate.
The report isn't clear as to the relationship between Higgins and the children.
Higgins is being held at the Main Detention Center in West Palm Beach. Each of the three charges carries a $100,000 bail.