DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit couple is scheduled for trial in November on charges they abused the man’s son, who hid in his basement for 11 days out of fear of being mistreated.
A district judge last month dismissed torture charges against the 46-year-old Charlie Bothuell IV and 37-year-old Monique Dillard-Bothuell, saying she didn’t find 13-year-old Charlie Bothuell’s testimony credible. The torture charge could have brought up to life in prison, while the child abuse charge carries a maximum punishment of 10 years.
Charlie, then 12, was reported missing for 11 days last summer but was eventually found in the basement of his home. He told investigators that he was struck with a stick or PVC pipe if he disappointed his dad and stepmother, and described his home as a “terrible place.”
During earlier testimony, Charlie said he was ordered to the basement by his stepmother as a punishment. He says he never called for help during the 11-day period, although police and others had been in the home during a search.
Defense attorneys have questioned Charlie’s truthfulness, noted that he occasionally left the basement for food, and said he had many opportunities to leave the house during those 11 days.
“She said if I heard anything just shut up and be quiet. … I didn’t know what was going to happen to me if I didn’t listen,” Charlie told a judge about his stepmother. “I had been threatened before that she would kill me.”
The attorney for the elder Bothuell, Sean Smith, told WWJ Newsradio 950 after the decision that the judge in the case did not believe the young boy and therefore couldn’t believe any of the other witnesses the prosecution brought forward. “The whole case was B.S. to begin with,” said Smith.
The elder Bothuell was giving an interview to cable TV host Nancy Grace on June 25, 2014, when he learned that Charlie had been found by police after 11 days. He expressed surprise and said he didn’t know his son was in the basement.
“I thought my son was dead,” the father told reporters.
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