PALM SPRINGS, Fla. – A South Florida man was arrested Monday after he repeatedly handcuffed a child to a dog crate and refused to feed the boy or let him use the bathroom, police said.
Robert Dersa II, 32, of Palm Springs, faces child abuse charges.
According to a Palm Springs police report, the Department of Children and Families began an investigation into allegations of child abuse involving the 12-year-old boy in October.
When a DCF investigator interviewed the boy, he told Officer Frank Ricciardi that Dersa “handcuffed him to the dog crate for over 12 hours because he went in the refrigerator without permission and drank some coffee creamer.”
“The child reported that when he is handcuffed to the dog crate he is denied food and can’t use the restroom,” the report said.
He also claimed that Dersa hit him with a “vacuum stick” and has punched him before, the report said.
When Ricciardi and the DCF investigator met with an unidentified woman in the home, she denied the allegations, saying that she punishes him by making him do yard work or taking things away from him.
Ricciardi wrote in the report that she “spoke poorly of the child.”
“She stated that the child is sick and delusional and his behavior sucks,” the report said.
During a home inspection, Ricciardi noticed a large dog crate in a bedroom “with two sets of handcuffs attached to the front of the cage.” When questioned about the handcuffs, the woman said that she, Dersa and the boy “role play,” the report said.
Police said there were prior allegations of child abuse involving the boy dating to 2013.
During an interview with police Monday, Dersa said the boy “has been out of control” for several years and called him a “mental case,” the report said.
Dersa denied ever handcuffing the boy to a dog crate, but when Ricciardi asked him about the cage in the home, Dersa said it was for two large iguanas, the report said.
However, Dersa was unable to provide any photos of the iguanas to show police, the report said.
Dersa was released from jail Tuesday on $53,000 bond.
“I never laid a hand on the boy,” Dersa told WPBF, the ABC affiliate in Palm Beach County.
Dersa said the boy has “a troubled mind.”
Under the terms of his release, Dersa isn’t allowed to have contact with the boy.