DETROIT — A 12-year-old Detroit boy found in his basement after a widely publicized 11-day search was abused by his father and stepmother and forced to rise before dawn for intense workouts of 100 pushups and even more situps, according to Michigan’s child-welfare agency.
Detailed allegations of physical and mental abuse were filed this week as the state tries to terminate the parental rights of Charlie Bothuell IV. The state also wants to end the parental rights of Monique Dillard-Bothuell, the boy’s stepmother and mother of two other children. No criminal charges have been filed.
The boy, Charlie Bothuell V, “has experienced physical abuse by his father ... for the entire two years he has resided in Mr. Bothuell’s residence,” the Department of Human Services said in a court filing. “The abuse included being physically disciplined with a PVC pipe on his butt, feet, chest, head, thighs, sides and arms. ... He was often too sore to sit or walk.”
Charlie was found by police in the basement of his family’s condominium on June 25, more than a week after he was reported missing. His father had made tearful pleas on TV for his son’s safe return and insisted he didn’t know the boy was in the basement.
But Charlie told caseworkers that his stepmother ordered him there on June 14 because she believed he hadn’t completed one of his twice-a-day workouts: 100 pushups, 200 situps, 100 jumping jacks, 25 arm curls with a 25-pound weight and thousands of revolutions on an elliptical machine.
Charlie said his stepmom told him, “Shut up, stay quiet and don’t say anything no matter what you hear!”
He said she told him at times, “I know where the sharp knives are. ... I can make you disappear.”
A court hearing to end the couple’s parental rights began Thursday and will resume July 17 after lawyers get more documents from the state. Charlie, meanwhile, is living with his mother; two step-siblings, ages 4 and 9 months, have been placed with relatives.
Dillard-Bothuell’s attorney, Mark Magidson, said the claim that she ordered the boy to the basement is “ridiculous.”
“There’s no child abuse,” Magidson told reporters. “Was there corporal punishment on some occasions? There may have been. Once all the evidence is out, you’ll understand why.”
Bothuell’s attorney, Stephanie Carson, declined to comment when reached by phone.
Charlie told investigators that he heard police officers come to the home while he was in the basement. When the condo was quiet, he said he went upstairs for Gatorade, soda, protein shakes and dry cereal.