Broward teen’s guardians accused of torturing her for years, records say

A Margate couple is accused of torturing a girl, locking her in closets and abusing her in ways that left permanent scars and signs of “significant long-term trauma,” according to court records.

Latricia Crawley, 46, and Benjamin Lockett, 43, now face charges of aggravated child abuse and child neglect with great bodily harm, court records show. The couple were the girl’s guardians, and Lockett and the girl are related.

The abuse came to light last week after the 15-year-old girl sent a message to her online teacher asking that police come to her home, according to probable cause affidavits. Lockett had allegedly punched her in the head, and her head hit the corner of a desk.

Lockett is facing a third charge of child abuse without great bodily harm, stemming from the alleged punch, according to court records.

Officers saw a bloody and swollen cut on the left side of the girl’s head from the punch. Lockett punched the girl because he thought she ate candy, the affidavit said, and he threatened not to feed her for a week after he saw what she texted her teacher.

At the hospital where she was being treated for her injury, Margate Police noticed scars and scar tissue, bite marks from bugs and signs of malnutrition, Crawley’s probable cause affidavit said. The girl said Crawley and Lockett had been her legal guardians since 2014 and had tortured her and locked her in two different closets inside the home.

The girl had a visible scar on her chin, and she told police Lockett had kicked her when she was 11, in 2019.

When she was 13, Crawley put oil on the girl’s knees and made her “kneel on rice for several hours at a time, for several days in a row,” the affidavit says. Two years later, the girl’s knees were still scarred.

Crawley allegedly tied the girl, then 13, to something and hit her toes with a hammer. Last year when the girl was 14, both of her legal guardians “tied and bound the victim to different objects on multiple occasions with a nylon rope,” the affidavit said, which scarred the girl’s shoulders, wrists and stomach.

The girl said also when she was 14 years old that Crawley threw a pot of boiling water on her, which scarred her stomach. On other occasions, one form of “punishment” from Crawley would be to have her eyelids taped shut and submerge her head in water, according to the affidavit.

“The victim became so upset explaining this punishment she began to cry and had to be given time to recover before speaking with (police) further,” the affidavit said.

In the home, the deputy saw two closets with locks on the outside. Drops of blood were inside one, where the girl ran after she was allegedly punched.

“The victim explained throughout her time at this residence, approximately 10 years, the defendant and co-defendant would lock the victim in one of these closets, at times bound by zip ties, where she would sleep and was provided a bucket for her to urinate and/or defecate in. The defendant would often pour cold water on the victim while she slept, just to see her wake up,” the deputy wrote in Crawley’s affidavit.

The girl also appeared malnourished and starved, which was another form of “punishment” she described, according to the affidavit.

Crawley did not attempt to check on the girl or locate her while the girl was with police, the affidavit said, and she “expressed her desire to release custody” of the girl. She was taken by Child Protective Services after the couple were arrested last week, according to the affidavits.

Crawley and Lockett have since been released after posting bail. Their attorney information was not available Tuesday afternoon.