FLINT (WWJ) – Three people have been charged in connection with the assault of an 11-year-old boy that was videotaped and posted on Facebook.
Demitria Latrion Powell, the victim’s 28-year-old mother, Uteas Michelle Taylor, the boy’s 42-year-old godmother, and Stefon Tirrell Felton, the godmother’s 40-year-old boyfriend, were arraigned Tuesday on several charges, including third degree child abuse, conspiracy to commit child abuse, and child abuse committed in the presence of another child.
Police were first made aware of the incident, which occurred April 3 at a home in Flint, after being contacted by several concerned citizens who saw video of the abuse online and were concerned for the child’s welfare. As of Tuesday morning, the video had been shared nearly 9,000 times on Facebook.
In the more than six-minute-long video, the young victim was forced to bend over and place his hands on the arm of a dining room chair while nearly five dozen lashes with a belt were administered on his buttocks, according to a statement released by the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office.
The video apparently shows Taylor repeatedly whipping the boy with a belt and Powell striking him in the face with her hands while others watched. Felton, who never showed his face in the video, was reportedly behind the camera.
“Throughout the beating, the adults admonished the child for his behavior and warnings were given that he not get involved with gang activity,” the statement read. “Near the end of the video, the child was in obvious pain and he was squirming while being struck and still forced to hold onto the arms of the chair.”
Police said others were in the room throughout the incident, including an infant who was in clear view of the victim being beaten. Some who saw the video say the child is warned the beating will go on longer if he lets go of the chair. At the end, the boy is made to give his name and age for the camera; the video was reportedly posted on his own Facebook timeline by a family member as part of the punishment.
“The adults in this case clearly went beyond what is a reasonable level of ‘parental discipline,'” Prosecutor David Leyton said. “What the video in this case reveals is a group of adults whose actions were a criminal assault against a child and that behavior cannot be condoned nor allowed under the law.”
The Flint Police Department responded to the incident on their own Facebook page, asking people to stop posting the video on their timeline, and saying the investigation is ongoing.
Responses to their post from the public run the gamut, with some saying “innocent until proven guilty” and others expressing disgust.
Brandy Horak DeFisher wrote this: “Those “adults” are nothing but pigs. That poor boy!!! If the child has issues, his family is to blame…Look at how they are? Nothing but trash that shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce. I pray that this boy and the other children in the video are removed from those pigs and placed with people who will love and care for them. This just makes my heart hurt.”
Bond was set at $7,500 for Powell, and at $8,500 for Taylor and Felton. Their next court date was not immediately scheduled.
Police said they would seek additional charges against others if they’re found to have aided in the abuse. An investigation is ongoing.