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Warning: The below article contains graphic descriptions of sexual violence.
A Tampa man was sentenced to life in prison on Monday after being convicted of molesting his girlfriend’s 10-year-old daughter, and attempting to cover up the evidence by using bleach, per WTSP.
Lewis Matthews was 43 years old when he undressed, molested, and sexually battered his girlfriend’s daughter after she fell asleep on the living room floor in April 2019. The victim’s mother, who had been dating Matthews for several years, was “stunned by what she discovered” when she came downstairs after hearing a noise, and immediately called 911.
The victim and two other children in the home were driven by Matthews to a nearby gas station where she was told to go into the bathroom, and remove her pants and underwear. The man who had been “like a stepfather to her” put bleach on her genitals and discarded her underwear in a dumpster. Despite the bleach, investigators managed to identify traces of Matthews’ DNA on her body, clothing, and underwear.
Matthews was found guilty earlier this month of sexual battery of a child younger than 12, two counts of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 12, and tampering with physical evidence. He was sentenced to life in prison on the sexual battery of a child charge, with 25 years for each count of lewd and lascivious molestation, and five years for tampering.
“Parents who are sexually abusing kids in their custody—it makes your blood boil. That’s why we’re aggressively prosecuting cases like these. And that’s why these people deserve to spend the rest of their lives in prison,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said.