Couple facing child abuse charges
A Cape Coral man is facing sexual assault and child abuse charges, and his wife also faces multiple counts of child abuse, after several of their children came forward with allegations on Monday.
Daniel Wayne Spurgeon, 47, and Jenise Rae Spurgeon, 52, both of Southeast 11th Place, are each charged with 10 counts of cruelty toward child aggravated child abuse, according to official records.
He was also charged with three counts of lewd lascivious behavior victim 12 years of age or older younger than 16 years of age offender 18 years of age older, as well as lewd lascivious behavior victim age 12 to 16 and sex assault by custodian sex battery victim 12 years of age under 18 years of age.
As of Tuesday, Daniel Spurgeon remained in custody at the Lee County Jail on $495,000 bond. According to the records, Jenise Rae Spurgeon also remained in custody on $300,000 bond.
On Sunday, Cape police responded to the Kentucky Fried Chicken at 2210 S. Del Prado Blvd. in reference to intoxicated juveniles. The officers made contact with three girls – ages 16, 13 and 13 – who explained that they lived nearby with their adopted-foster parents and several other siblings.
A report states that the girls admitted their father, Daniel Spurgeon, had given them alcohol to drink. Due to severe intoxication, EMS was called and the girls were transported to HealthPark Hospital.
“During conversations with officers and EMS personnel, it was learned that Daniel has been physically and sexually abusing many of the minors living in his residence,” according to the report.
Police learned that the couple lived with: five adopted daughters, ages 11 to 16; three foster daughters, ages 11 to 13; and two foster sons, ages 8 and 9; along with three biological children, ages 10 to 15.
The report states that at least four of the adopted-foster girls had been victims of sexual assault and molestation. One victim said there had been only one incident here, but there had been multiple incidents in their former home in Alabama.
The couple also has a 19-year-old adopted daughter, who does not live in the residence. During the investigation, she learned that something was happening and drove to the Cape. She told police that if the girls alleged sexual abuse was occurring, she could confirm it was true as she also was a victim.
She told detectives that Daniel Spurgeon had molested her from the age of 12 to 16.
All of the adopted-foster children described a pattern of living and physical abuse in the home, administered by Spurgeon and his wife, and were treated differently than their biological children.
According to the report, food was kept separate between the two groups of children. While the biological children would receive three normal meals each day, breakfast, lunch and dinner for the adopted-foster children would be made of grits, bread, rice, beans and, on occasion, spaghetti.
“The food for the biological children was kept on the second floor of the home and the adopted-foster children were not allowed to eat it,” the report states. “If something went missing from the food area, the adopted-foster children were always blamed and punished.”
Punishment for the children consisted of swimming laps in the pool or the canal behind their home, then being forced to take cold showers and smacked with spatulas.
According to the report, they would be grabbed by their arms and then thrown into walls. One boy said he was smacked across the face.
Several of them reported being choked by their parents until they could not breathe.
“Every child interviewed stated that they had never seen one of the biological children hit or disciplined in these ways,” the report states.
Police also discovered that three of the girls were being forced to sleep on the outside lanai, where there was only one twin bed and a small sofa. A sheet was hung up to protect them from the elements.
During the medical exams, it was learned that most had not been to a doctor or dentist in years.
Jenise Spurgeon was in Orlando at Universal Studios with two of her biological children at the time of the police call. She reportedly dropped the children off with her parents before returning to the Cape.
She and her husband were taken into custody on Monday at their home and charged.
“At this time, this investigation is ongoing here and in other jurisdictions and additional charges may be filed against both suspects,” according to the report.
Natalie Harrell, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Families and Children, confirmed on Tuesday that the agency has opened a “child protection investigation into the concerning allegations.”
She noted that all 13 children have been taken into protective custody.
“The adopted and foster children in the home were placed with the family while they lived in Alabama,” Harrell said. “Since the five foster children were in the process of being adopted, they were allowed to move with the family from Alabama to Florida under the federal Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.”
She added that the five were in the process of being adopted by the Spurgeons.
“It’s important to note that there were no Florida foster children placed in the home with the family,” Harrell said. “The foster and adopted children from Alabama are in the process of being returned. Local child protective services in Alabama will be handling appropriate placement and services for them.”
She did not know if the biological children would return to Alabama or be placed with relatives.
“The decision will be up to the dependency judge presiding over the case,” Harrell said.
As of Tuesday, Alabama Department of Human Resources officials were aware of the allegations.
“However, Alabama confidentiality laws prevent me from discussing specific child welfare cases unless there is a fatality or near fatality,” Barry Spear, the public information manager for the DHR, stated via an email. “I can tell you that the Spurgeons became foster parents in Alabama in 2004.”
He added that the couple was approved as Florida foster parents on June 3.
“But any information concerning the children is strictly confidential,” Spear continued.
Neither Daniel nor Jenise Spurgeon have a prior criminal record in Lee County.
According to the tax records, they purchased their Cape home in 2014.
The Spurgeons have court appearances scheduled for Aug. 22.