Charlie Bothuell IV leaves court Friday in Detroit. (Clarence Tabb Jr. / The Detroit News)
Detroit — Charlie Bothuell V, the 12-year-old boy who was discovered crouching in his basement after he was considered missing for 11 days, had bruises on his body, officials revealed in court Friday — the latest dramatic twist in a story that has garnered international attention.
Child abuse charges are likely to be filed against the boy’s father, Charlie Bothuell IV, said his attorney, Mark Magidson, who denied any abuse.
During Friday’s temporary custody hearing in Wayne County Juvenile Court, in which referee Leslie Graves revealed that Detroit Police officers found bruises on Charlie’s body, the boy’s father attempted unsuccessfully to regain custody of his other son and daughter, both of whom are autistic.
After the 15-minute hearing, Graves denied the request, but ruled Bothuell could have contact with his children under court-ordered supervision.
Charlie, who was reported missing by his father on June 14, remains in the custody of his birth mother, while his siblings are with other relatives. All the children were removed from the home Thursday by state Child Protective Services workers.
Media, including representatives from “Good Morning America,” CNN and the London Daily Mail, on Friday were camped outside the home of Charlie’s birth mother, Africa Shippings. Visitors who showed up throughout the day declined comment. A boy could be seen peeking out of the doorway periodically, although it was unclear if it was Charlie.
The case exploded after HLN’s Nancy Grace learned during her show Wednesday that Charlie had been found alive. Earlier that day, police who had found blood on his clothes expressed fear he might be dead — only to find him hiding behind a stack of boxes and a large drum in the basement of his Lafayette Park townhouse.
Investigators say Bothuell appeared preoccupied with the physical fitness of his son, raising questions about whether the boy may have been mentally or physically abused.
During the 11 days the boy was considered missing, his father made several references to how fit his son is.
After the boy was discovered crouching in the basement of his east side townhouse Wednesday and Detroit Police Chief James Craig said he didn’t think Charlie could have moved the heavy drum and boxes that obscured his hiding place, his father replied: “Have you seen my son?” — a reference to the boy’s physique.
Police sources say investigators are trying to determine whether Bothuell’s interest with his son’s health crossed over into abuse.
Bothuell forced his son to work out on an elliptical machine several times per day, sometimes in tears, sources said. When the boy reportedly walked out of his house on June 14, his father said he had left a workout session to use the bathroom.
Magidson insisted the workouts were not abuse.
“That wasn’t a punishment,” Magidson said.
“He was exercising as a part of a program. About two years ago he was obese, he suffered from being overweight so his father, who was a registered nurse, put him on a diet of non-fried foods and an exercise program on an elliptical ... a non-stressful exercise that exercises all the body parts. That’s not abusive at all.”
Magidson also downplayed Charlie’s bruises.
“Anyone who has a 12-year-old boy, if that child doesn’t have bruises or something on them, I would find it to be remarkable,” Magidson said.
Police recovered a PVC pipe from Charlie’s home, but Craig said it’s unclear whether it was used to punish him.
It’s also unclear whether Charlie’s stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, may have played a role in what went on.
She also was in court Friday morning after spending the night in the Wayne County Jail on a probation violation charge. She is serving a two-year probation term for a misdemeanor gun violation, and was arrested Thursday after police found a gun in her house during one of the four searches of the home conducted by Detroit police and FBI agents.
$5,000 bond set
Prosecutors on Friday wanted Dillard-Bothuell held without bond, saying she had failed to turn herself in for violating her parole stemming from a previous conviction for purchasing a pistol without a permit.
After listening for about 10 minutes, 3rd District Judge Gregory Bill set a $5,000 personal bond for Dillard-Bothuell and ordered her to wear an electronic tether. Dillard-Bothuell’s next court appearance is set for July 11.
Meanwhile, Charles Bothuell was ordered to return to court on July 10 to continue hearings on custody issues.
Staff writer Tom Greenwood contributed.