‘He wanted me to die:’ Polk sheriff’s deputy arrested on charge of child abuse

Austin Moates accused of choking girl

Polk County deputy Austin Moates was arrested May 18 on a charge of child abuse without bodily harm, according to Lakeland police. (Lakeland Police Department)

LAKELAND, Fla. – A Polk County sheriff’s deputy was arrested last week on allegations of choking a girl while punishing her.

Austin Moates was arrested May 18 on a charge of child abuse without bodily harm. Detectives said Moates is related to the girl, whose age has not been released.

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According to a Lakeland police arrest affidavit, Moates was informed on May 9 that two children were involved in a bullying incident at school. Moates said he took the children home and spanked them with his hand “for their behavior,” the affidavit stated.

The affidavit said Moates told the girl to go to her room, but she refused. According to the affidavit, the girl said he then “choked my neck and he squeezed my neck and carried me up the stairs and he wanted me to die.”

Officials said the children were later at Duff Field, where a person noticed marks on the girl’s neck and asked her how she got them, and the girl told her what Moates allegedly did.

The witness asked someone else if they saw what happened and that person said Moates grabbed the girl “by her ne ...” before pausing and saying, “her arms,” the affidavit stated.

Moates said he was unaware there were marks on the girl’s neck and didn’t know how she could have received them.

As of earlier this week, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office was in the process of terminating Moates from his job, according to WFLA.com.


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Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on ClickOrlando.com, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.