Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

DCF wants Homosassa mother accused of abuse to lose rights permanently

Keith Ciampa, left, makes a plea for visitation with his children Monday to General Magistrate Keith Schenck in Citrus County court. The boys are currently sheltered with his parents, Pat Ciampa, right, Mike Ciampa, center.


Keith Ciampa, left, makes a plea for visitation with his children Monday to General Magistrate Keith Schenck in Citrus County court. The boys are currently sheltered with his parents, Pat Ciampa, right, Mike Ciampa, center.

INVERNESS — The little blond-haired boy in blue and white pajamas sat on top of the bed and looked up at his grandmother, Pat Ciampa.

"Mimi," he said, "they not ever going to take me back to Mommy?"

"Mommy" to that 5-year-old is Crystal Jean Ciampa, accused of torturing her son and locking him in a 4- by 4-foot closet for hours at a time.

When Pat heard the question three weeks ago, she related to a reporter on Monday, she didn't hesitate.

"No, honey," she replied. "You never have to go back to Mommy."

He asked again, Pat said, and she told him the same thing. He smiled, bounced up and down and wrapped his arms around her.

"It was the most happy we have ever seen this child," she said. "I can't explain it. He was thrilled that he was never going back."

Authorities are now trying to make sure he never does.

The state Department of Children and Families filed a petition in court asking a Citrus County general magistrate to permanently revoke 26-year-old Crystal Ciampa's parental rights over her five sons. The agency has also asked that Joshua Heater, who lived with Ciampa in Homosassa, lose custody of the two sons he had with her.

Ciampa allegedly targeted the one son because he reminded her of his father. Authorities have not accused her of abusing the other four boys.

Besides locking him a closet, authorities say, the couple burned the child with a cigarette lighter and sliced his hands with a plastic cake cutter. They're also accused of forcing him to eat his own feces, drink his own urine and, once, to lick his own vomit from the kitchen floor.

Both are in jail, awaiting trial on charges of aggravated child abuse, child neglect and tampering with a witness.

Ciampa denied it all, but investigators said Heater, 26, implicated Ciampa and confessed to nearly everything.

The decision on the parental rights is scheduled to be made in October.

The boy and his 4-year-old full biological brother now live with their grandparents, Pat and Mike Ciampa. After authorities first took the children away from Crystal Ciampa, the kids lived with their father, Keith Ciampa, who is Pat and Mike's son.

But, Pat said, authorities had to also take the boys away from him after a day care worker noticed bruises on them. Later, Pat said, the children told a child protection investigator that their father had beaten them with a belt buckle.

Keith Ciampa, who has not been criminally charged, denied the allegations and said the children had stayed with his parents in the weeks before he was accused of the mistreatment.

"I've never spanked my kids with a belt, ever," he said. "I used my hand, but last time I checked, that's not illegal."

Since then, the two have had no contact with him and have lived with their grandparents, who hope to eventually gain full custody.

At Monday's hearing, General Magistrate Keith Schenck said Keith Ciampa was scheduled for mediation in August. There, authorities say, his lawyer will meet with DCF investigators to establish a case plan that would potentially allow him to regain custody of his children. He did not return a message on his cell phone Monday afternoon.

Now, Pat said, she and her husband are committed to their grandson's recovery.

He and his brother go to day care and regularly see a counselor. This fall, they intend to place him in kindergarten.

Because of the prolonged abuse, Pat said, the boy's healing has been gradual. The bruises and scrapes on her arms are evidence that, at times, both he and his brother have acted out toward their grandparents.

"We have good days and sometimes not so good. Most of the days are getting better," she said. "It's not going to happen overnight."

Most of all, Pat said, he loves his freedom to just be a kid.

With his brother, he enjoys playing outside. He collects leaves and bugs and chases lizards in the yard; he likes to play with toy trucks and ride his bike.

Both of the children now want to learn how to play golf. With their toy clubs, they sometimes go to a nearby course and hit balls with Mike.

Curious and creative, the little boy often tapes his drawings and other creations on spots around the house. Sometimes, he sticks them in places they're not supposed to be taped, like bedroom doors and the living room walls.

His grandparents don't mind.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at (352) 848-1432 or

DCF wants Homosassa mother accused of abuse to lose rights permanently 07/11/11 [Last modified: Monday, July 11, 2011 9:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign


    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home


    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence


    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”