Dad, stepmom of boy in basement to be tried for abuse

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — A judge dropped some charges against the parents of a boy who was reported missing but found 11 days later in the basement of his family's home near downtown, saying she was skeptical he was tortured by his father.

Judge Shannon Holmes of 36th District Court did, however, bind over for trial on Wednesday Charlie Bothuell IV and his wife, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, on second-degree child abuse charges.

Holmes pointed out "glaring" inconsistencies in the case, such as Charlie Bothuell V's statements on the stand and hospital records that showed he was not malnourished. She also said she did not find there was "forcible confinement" or "restriction" of the youth allegedly in the basement, where he was found nearly two weeks after he was reported missing.

"I just don't believe him," Holmes said in dismissing the torture charges. "I don't believe that he was in that basement. I don't believe that he was there for 10 days. I don't believe they restricted his movements."

Holmes said the boy, 13, did not illustrate he was not isolated, as accused by the Assistant Wayne County Carin Goldfarb, and Charlie had access to social media. The judge also said she did not believe Charlie V's accusation that he was deprived of food while he was allegedly in the basement.

The attorneys for the stepmother and his father argued the boy was not injured, he lied and could have left the basement of his home in the 1300 block of Nicolet Place at any time.

After the ruling, Charlie Bothuell IV said: "I can move on with my life." If found guilty on all charges, the two could have been sentenced to life in prison.

The second-degree child abuse charges carry a 10-year sentence. The dad's attorney, Shawn Patrick Smith, says he will file a motion to have the child abuse charge dismissed or reduced.

The couple embraced after the judge's decision with Dillard Bothuell sobbing in her husband's arm.

The stepmother's attorney, Godfrey Dillard, said the boy was not physically abused by his client. He said "what woman has not grabbed a man-child in the fit of anger not meaning to do (bodily harm)." Smith said Charlie V has lied to police in the past about running away.

"Many times he's flat out lied," Smith said. "There's no evidence Mr. Bothuell put the child in the basement."

Smith called Charlie V "a broken boy" who acted out because he wanted to live with his biological mother.

Both attorneys pointed out a Children's Hospital of Michigan doctor who determined the boy was abused did not personally interview or examine the child.

Goldfarb said the father and stepmother were "aiders and abettors" who "joined together in their act" of abuse and torture. Charlie V said his father beat him with a PVC pipe.

The ruling follows eight days of testimony spread out over several months.

The judge called "incomplete" reports and interviews by the doctor who said the boy was abused.

Three visits to the home by investigators produced no signs of the boy. But on June 25, 2014, a sergeant from the Michigan State Police and a special agent with the FBI found him hidden behind boxes in the basement.

Shortly before the case adjourned for lunch, the judge disallowed six defense witnesses who she said were planning to testify about matters already covered by previous witnesses.

The witness list included two people who told police they saw Charlie Bothuell V outside his home while he was missing and the boy's aunt, who was to testify about spending time with the boy at a barbecue about a week and a half before he went missing.

The couple will face a judge in juvenile court next month on the custody case involving their two other children. The arraignment on information for the child abuse charges in the case is scheduled for July 8.

Tethers were removed from the parents Wednesday after the judge's ruling. The judge also reduced the bond for the couple from $500,000 cash/surety to a $50,000 personal bond.

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Detroit News Staff Writer Holly Fournier contributed.