Tampa man gets life sentence for molesting 10-year-old

Lewis Matthews sits at his sentencing hearing Monday in Tampa.
Lewis Matthews sits at his sentencing hearing Monday in Tampa.(Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office)
Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 3:05 PM EDT
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TAMPA, Fla. (WWSB) - A Tampa man who sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl and poured bleach on her genitals and clothes to try to destroy evidence of the crime will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Circuit Court Judge Kimberly Fernandez sentenced Lewis Matthews, 43, to the mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison for sexual battery on a victim younger than 12; 25 years each on two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation of a victim younger than 12; and five years for tampering with evidence.

Matthews was found guilty earlier this month. Prosecutors said Matthews, who had been dating the victim’s mother for several years, was at her house. He approached the victim as she slept and sexually assaulted her. The victim’s mother heard a noise and came downstairs. Stunned by what she discovered, the victim’s mother called 911.

As the victim’s mother was on the phone, Matthews took the young victim and the two other children in the home and drove away with them. Matthews stopped at a nearby gas station and brought the victim inside the store. He directed her to go into the bathroom. Matthews went down the aisle, picked up a bottle of bleach, and joined the victim in the bathroom. Inside the bathroom, Matthews ordered the victim to remove her pants and underwear. He then splashed caustic bleach onto her genitals. Matthews took the victim’s underwear and threw them into a dumpster behind the store.

Despite his attempts to destroy evidence, investigators were still able to detect Matthews’ DNA on the bleach-stained underwear, as well as the victim’s body, and other clothing.

“Parents who are sexually abusing kids in their custody — it makes your blood boil,” Andrew Warren, state attorney for the 13th Judicial Circuit, was quoted as saying in a news release. “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.”

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