Priscilla Jocelyn Florentino was booked at the Flagler County jail on three felony charges, including child abuse and assaulting an officer, after allegedly handcuffing her 12-year-old child’s hand to a steering wheel in a hot car, defacing the child with lurid accusations on her face, shoving a pipe down the 12 year old’s mouth, shoving her fingers down her mouth, choking her, striking the girl with a phone, and shearing off the child’s hair to a military-style cut.
The entire incident, much of it witnessed by co-workers who intervened, took place at the Microtel off Old Kings Road, where Florentino, a 33-year-old resident of Prospect Lane in Palm Coast, works. Florentino was allegedly disciplining her child after finding out that she may have been engaged in sexual acts.
According to her arrest report, Florentino had arrived at work Thursday morning with her child’s phone. She searched the phone with a co-worker’s help and found sexually-suggestive pictures. She then went to school to retrieve her daughter. Once back at the motel, Florentino walked back in by herself. According to a co-worker, she had left her daughter handcuffed to the steering wheel in the parking lot “in the hot car.” (The heat index exceeded 100 on Thursday). Shortly afterward, Florentino went back out to get her daughter, but handcuffed her to herself before taking the handcuffs off and having the girl sit in a chair.
What followed, according to co-workers, was a series of torments, insults and physical assaults against the girl. Florentino allegedly forced a pipe down the girl’s mouth to simulate an act her mother was accusing her of performing with a boy, appearing to choke her, and did the same with her fingers, telling her to “suck this” if she wanted to do so so bad. The child’s mother then flashed the picture of male genitalia to her child, found on her phone, demanding to know whose it was, and when Florentino got no answer, a co-worker “stated she saw [Florentino]’s arm raise with the phone in it and then heard an impact of an object hitting skin which she believed to be the phone hitting” the girl.
A co-worker told deputies that after she heard the child being struck, Florentino defaced the girl by writing demeaning and insulting words all over her face, at which point the co-worker left, being unable to watch anymore. The entire scene occurred in a hallway behind the front desk, out of view from surveillance cameras. The co-worker, shaken and in tears, would later speak with authorities. But it had not been that co-workers who’d alerted deputies.
Rather, it was an employee at the nearby Red Roof Inn who’d called. She had been taking a smoke break, had noticed the girl and her mother in the car, both seeming upset. When the employee approached and asked Florentino if everything was all right, Florentino told her she had caught her daughter engaged in a sexual act. It was then that the other employee realized the girl’s hand was handcuffed to the steering wheel, then saw Florentino leave her in the car and walk into the motel. (The arrest report is conflicting regarding which motel the incident took place in, at first referring to the Microtel, then referring to the Red Roof Inn, both of which are on Kingswood Drive. Florentino told authorities she works at the Microtel.)
The Red Roof Inn employee also saw Florentino write obscene words on her daughter’s face “while gripping” it, and moments later saw her shear off the girl’s hair, which had been shoulder-length. That employee said that’s when she’d seen enough, and walked away, eventually reporting the incident to authorities and naming the other employee who’d witnessed the torment. Both employees’ accounts closely resembled each other.
Deputies would later find the pipe with which Florentino had allegedly assaulted her daughter, and hair in a trash can. By then, Florentino had gone home with her daughter.
Deputies went to Florentino’s home. Florentino denied that there’d been an incident at school, and denied the deputies access to her child, saying she did not want to speak with deputies further. By then, however, a felony child abuse charge had already been issued. Florentino was to be detained. So the deputy asked Florentino to comply. But she tried to go back into the house, allegedly resisted arrest as deputies ordered her to comply, yelled profanities, “then began striking Deputy Doggett with a closed fist on his left wrist while he was attempting to gain control of her.” Another struggle ensued inside the house before she was subdued.
She then spoke with deputies of what had prompted her to get her child from school, citing the images she’d found on her child’s phone, confessing to smacking her child on the back of her head and shaving off her hair. She did this, the mother said, because the child’s hair is her “most prized possession” that makes her “feel like the beautiful girl she is.” Florentino denied other accusations.
Surveillance video footage “was gone” from 1:55 p.m. forward, the arrest report states, though from what footage deputies did recover, they could only detect the appearance of Florentino yelling at someone not visible from that angle. But there was no evidence of the alleged defacing or the shoving of the pipe.
After the arrest deputies were able to have contact with the child, apparently with her father’s permission. Her eyes “immediately filled with tears” when she began speaking with a female deputy, and she asked if the conversation could take place in her bedroom, where she’d be more comfortable. But she would only nod yes or no to questions, denying that anything had happened at the motel, but conceding that her mother had cut her hair. She had a small, bright-red scratch on her cheek, but otherwise did not appear bruised.
Florentino faces three third-degree felonies–child abuse, resisting an officer with violence, and battery on a law enforcement officer. She was booked at the Flagler County jail on $17,500 bond. She remained at the jail in early afternoon Friday. A judge has imposed a no-contact order against the mother regarding her child, pending the resolution of the case, which means the mother may not return to the home where the child lives, or be within a certain distance of her child.
Abuse Hotline: Report Abuse Online
The Florida Abuse Hotline accepts reports 24 hours a day and 7 days a week of known or suspected child abuse, neglect, or abandonment and reports of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult. Please use the links below to report a child or adult abuse.
If you suspect or know of a child or vulnerable adult in immediate danger, call 911.
TTY: 711 or
Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare is a mandatory reporter. § 39.201(1)(a), Florida Statutes.
To report an allegation in Spanish or Creole, please call 1-800-962-2873, for TTY use 711 or 1-800-955-8771. This toll free number is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with counselors waiting to assist you.