(ran T edition of B)
A 10-year-old boy has been charged with raping two boys, ages 3 and 5, after the pair's mother left them alone with him and two other children, authorities say.
The 10-year-old faces two counts of sexual battery. He was being held Monday in the state juvenile detention center in Ocala, Brooksville police said.
The mother of the alleged victims was charged with two counts of child abuse and neglect. She was released Monday evening from the Hernando County Jail after posting $6,000 bail.
In a brief interview, the mother challenged some elements of the account of the incident given by police and said she was horrified by what had happened to her children.
"I've cried every waking hour I was in there," she said outside the jail.
Her name and those of the children involved are not being published to protect the privacy of the juveniles.
The incident took place about 6:40 p.m. Friday at Tanglewood Apartments off Union Street in Brooksville.
The 22-year-old mother left her two children in a bathtub at home with three children who lived nearby, Brooksville police said.
While she was gone, the 10-year-old apparently molested both children, said police Lt. Terry Chapman.
When the mother returned about a half hour later, she found her children crying and was told what had happened by another child who had been there, Chapman said.
The mother called police, and her children were taken to Brooksville Regional Hospital.
A doctor there found the 3-year-old had "very probably been sodomized" and the 5-year-old "possibly so," jail records said.
The 10-year-old boy later admitted committing both sexual offenses, Chapman said.
The 3-year-old and 5-year-old are in the custody of the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, he said.
Chapman didn't know whether the suspect had a history of sexual assault or violence. A girl in the neighborhood described the boy as "bad," but said she knew little about Friday evening's incident.
After her release from jail, the mother of the 3-year-old and 5-year-old denied she had left her home for more than five or 10 minutes.
She said she left her children with two other children, including the older brother of the suspect, while she went across the street to smoke a cigarette.
The suspect, who was known to be violent, she said, then entered the house and attacked her children.
She returned to find the children crying behind a locked door, she said.
"I pounded on it till they let me in," she said.
"I never knew you could get put in jail for letting somebody babysit your kids," she said through tears.
The mother is scheduled to appear in court next month.