Tampa “man,” Lewis Matthews, 34, was sentenced to life in prison for molesting a 10-year-old girl and dousing her genitals with bleach to destroy evidence. Matthews had been dating the mother of the victim for two years and was like a stepdad to the girl.
“It’s heartbreaking to sit in court and watch a victim, who has been sexually abused by someone who is supposed to be caring for her, testify on the stand. That’s why I’m so proud of the work that our prosecutors do to hold these offenders accountable, stand up for the victims, and send these predators away for life,” Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said.
Matthews approached the victim at 3:30 a.m. on April 13, 2019. The mother of the victim heard sounds and investigated, catching Mathews molesting the girl. The mother called 911 and Mathews grabbed three small children and took off. He drove to a nearby gas station where he instructed the victim to go into the restroom. He then grabbed a bottle of bleach and doused the girl. Investigators were still able to find evidence on the girl and her clothing, though Matthews had bleached the clothing as well and hidden it in a nearby dumpster.
Matthews was found guilty after a three-day trial, which included testimony by the victim.
“Parents who are sexually abusing kids in their custody — it makes your blood boil,” State Attorney Warren said. “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.”