ST. PETERSBURG ― A 43-year-old fugitive wanted in Sarasota County for sexually battering a teenage girl he kept trapped in a room for 18 months there was captured in St. Petersburg on Friday, authorities said.
Dwight Bainbridge was arrested on charges of sexual battery of a minor, lewd or lascivious molestation and aggravated child abuse, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.
“Today we tracked him down in St. Pete thanks to the ongoing efforts and hard work of our Fugitive Apprehension Unit as well as our partners within the U.S. Marshals Florida Regional Fugitive Task Force!” the Sheriff’s Office wrote on its Facebook page on Friday.
Deputies did not say how the allegations came to light, but gave this account of what led to Bainbridge’s arrest:
In September, a 16-year-old high school student told deputies that Bainbridge and his 39-year-old girlfriend, Jessica Brambilla, had kept her locked in a bedroom and sexually battered her for about 18 months.
Deputies did not say how old the girl was when her ordeal started, how she met Bainbridge or how she escaped captivity. But the sheriff’s investigation started when her high school contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families.
The bedroom door’s exterior was outfitted with a padlock. Inside there was some bedding and a bucket the girl urinated in. The girl told deputies that the couple “kept her incarcerated because they believed she would bring home boys.” The agency did not elaborate on that.
The girl said she let out of the room twice a day to use the bathroom and to get food. She was given the bucket after she had to urinate on the floor. More recently, she said, the couple started confining her to the room 24 hours a day and let her out to bathe just once a week.
Her meals consisted of plain oatmeal, two peanut butter sandwiches, two cups of water and multivitamins, she told deputies.
She told deputies that the couple also started homeschooling her about 18 months ago, but they halted her education when they wanted to punish her. Her longest educational suspension, the girl said, lasted four months.
Deputies said the teen was malnourished, pale, dirty and had poor dental hygiene.
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Brambilla told deputies they kept the teenager locked up and said it was Bainbridge’s idea but she “saw no problem with it,” according to the Sheriff’s Office. She was arrested on Sept. 20 on a charge of aggravated child abuse. She was freed the next day from the Sarasota County jail after posting $50,000 bail.
Bainbridge was on the run until he was captured in St. Petersburg with help from the U.S. Marshals. He was being held without bail on Friday in the Pinellas County jail. He will be returned to Sarasota County, where he will stand trial.