Orlando man burned in 'fire challenge' arrested on lewd battery charge

Deputies say Robert Seals had inappropriate relationship with girl

Robert Seals seen in a May 2018 mugshot and in a photo provided to the media in 2015, before he was burned while participating in the "fire challenge."
Robert Seals seen in a May 2018 mugshot and in a photo provided to the media in 2015, before he was burned while participating in the "fire challenge."

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – An Orlando man who made headlines when he was severely burned while participating in the "fire challenge" was recently arrested on a lewd and lascivious battery charge, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Office.

Deputies said Robert Walker Seals, 18, was having an inappropriate relationship with a girl he met at church. The report did not provide the victim's age.

The investigation began on April 6 when the girl's mother reported that she believed her daughter was involved in a relationship with Seals because the two would talk on the phone in the early hours of the morning and they spent a lot of time together at church, according to documents.

During an interview on May 8, the victim told deputies that she and Seals had been in a romantic relationship since December, the report said. She also detailed an incident on April 6 in which Seals told her to skip class and meet him behind an abandoned home, deputies said.

When she met him, deputies said, Seals touched her inappropriately and then told her to go home and wash herself. The girl claimed that was the only time the two had sexual contact because Seals was waiting for the girl to turn 18, the report said.

The girl said Seals told her that, in the past, he dated an 11-year-old girl and 13-year-old girl and got in trouble when he was 15 for raping a 7-year-old girl, according to authorities. The report indicates that Seals is on probation and was not supposed to have unsupervised contact with children.

When Seals spoke to authorities on May 8, he denied having any kind of relationship with the victim, officials said. He blamed a neighbor for sending texts to the girl from his phone, the report said.

A digital forensic examination of the victim's phone found there were 77 phone calls between the girl and Seals and 82 text messages, including some that contained sexual content and photo collages of the pair together, according to deputies.

Seals was arrested May 10 on charges of lewd and lascivious battery and unlawful use of a two-way communication device. Records show he's being held at the Orange County Jail.

In 2015, when Seals was 15, he was put on life support while being treated for burns on 20 percent of his body that he suffered while participating in an online trend known as the "fire challenge." 

Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff's Office said that Seals doused himself in alcohol and told a friend to light a match to his clothes. Seals' friend was not charged in that case.

The arrest report indicates that Seals started attending the church where he met the victim because he wanted to turn his life around after his near-death experience participating in the fire challenge.

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