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Man accused of beating kids with wet belt

Thomas Tillman did more than just take a belt _ doused with water so it would hurt more _ and use it to beat two children he had tied up with rope, police say.

He and the children's mother videotaped themselves in the act.

A videotape showing Tillman, 31, beating two naked, bound children with a wet belt was confiscated by Tampa police Tuesday, according to a criminal report affidavit.

Tillman was charged Tuesday with two counts aggravated child abuse in the December 1996 incident. He was arrested at 2:45 p.m. at 1923 State Way, the home where authorities say the beating occurred. He was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail Tuesday night.

The arrest affidavit listed a 29-year-old woman as a co-defendant in the incident and said a warrant was requested for her arrest. The affidavit did not list the children's ages, and Tampa police spokesman Steve Cole could provide no details about the case Tuesday evening.

No information was available on how authorities learned of the crime or got a hold of the videotape, which shows the children stripped of clothing below the waist and their hands and feet bound with rope, according to the report. It was unclear late Tuesday whether the children were related to Tillman.

Also visible on the tape is the woman wetting the belt in water and looking on while Tillman uses it to strike the children, the report said. Both filmed the beating at the residence, it said.

A woman reached at the home Tuesday night, who identified herself only as Ms. Jackson and a cousin of the children, said she didn't know anything about the abuse though she had cared for the children.

"That's hearsay to me right now," she said, when asked about the alleged beating and videotape. The children belong to the woman in the video, she said.