Sarasota County deputies arrested two people in connection with the beating a four-year-old boy who had to be airlifted to All Children's Hospital.
Deputies said the boy's brain was swollen and bleeding when he arrived at the hospital. The boy's mother, Sara King, told deputies the boy fell and hit his head in a kiddie pool earlier in the week and then fell and hit his head on a tree root later on in the week.
But deputies who interviewed the boy in the hospital said he told them a very different story.
Deputies said the boy was beaten by Sean Cody Sickler, who lived in the home in Nokomis with the boy and his mother, along with several other adults and children. The boy told deputies Sickler would hit his head against the wall and call it "ramming time."
"It is just heartbreaking," said neighbor Matthew Gonyea. "I hope it is not true, but if it is, I hope they correct the situation."
Child protection investigators interviewed another child in the home who said the 4-year-old was in Sickler's bedroom when Sickler hit him in the head and the boy passed out.
"There are allegations that the child was struck numerous times. Whether that was an actual strike or pushed to the ground -- there was several occasions," said Sgt. Kevin Pingel.
The boy is expected to recover. Deputies said Sickler had been abusing the boy since 2013 and his mother knew about it.
"She was a tenant there. She could of easily left, but she didn't. She chose to stay," Sgt. Pingel added.
Sickler is a registered sex offender with an extensive criminal record including armed robbery, domestic battery, and an arrest in 2006 for sexual battery on a victim 12-15-years of age.
King also has a criminal record. She was arrested 15 times on charges that include burglary, grand theft, and drug possession.
Sickler is charged with Aggravated Child Abuse in this case. King is facing charges of child neglect.