For years, police said, Joseph Robinson terrorized his family - forcing his children to kneel on grains of rice until their knees bled and to hold books over their heads until their arms nearly collapsed in exhaustion.
Police said Robinson, 35, held his wife and four children in such control that it wasn't until he was recently taken into custody on an unrelated criminal arrest warrant that family members felt safe enough to report him.
"It's a very sad story," said New Britain Police Sgt. Gregory Wright. "This individual was clearly sadistic."
Police said Robinson's four children -- two girls, aged 7 and 10, and two boys, aged 14 and 15 -- were routinely subjected to humiliating acts of ``corporal punishment.'' In one instance, police said, Robinson tried to discipline one of his daughters, then 4 years old, by repeatedly dunking her head into a pot of water.
Another method that Robinson used to discipline his children, police said, was to force them to kneel on grains of rice spread on the floor.
Police said Robinson's spouse, who was not identified, was also subjected to physical abuse and was apparently too terrified to report the abuse.
Then earlier this month, police said, Robinson was taken into custody on an arrest warrant stemming from a case in New Jersey. Details of that case were not available Friday, but police said Robinson was apparently awaiting extradition to New Jersey when relatives reported the alleged abuse to the state Department of Children and Families.
The children have been taken into DCF custody.
Robinson appeared Thursday in Superior Court in New Britain to face charges of six counts of cruelty to persons, 15 counts of risk of injury to a minor and one count of fourth-degree sexual assault. He was returned to Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center in Montville after his appearance.
An arrest warrant affidavit in the case has been sealed by court order. No further information about the case was available Friday.