Dad of boy found in basement wants trial

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Detroit — A pretrial hearing abruptly ended Tuesday for the father of a boy who was reported missing in 2014 but found nearly two weeks later in the basement of his family’s home.

Meanwhile, the father declared his intent to bring his case to trial.

“I’ve turned the deals down,” Charlie Bothuell IV told The Detroit News prior to the hearing Tuesday. “Because I’m not guilty.”

Attorneys and prosecutors never went on the record Tuesday after a lengthy meeting in chambers with Judge Margaret Van Houten at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.

Before the meeting, defense attorney Farris Haddad confirmed his client planned to reject a misdemeanor plea deal involving no jail time. Haddad declined to elaborate prior to the hearing and would not comment before quickly leaving court Tuesday.

Prosecutors also declined to comment following the meeting in chambers Tuesday.

Bothuell IV after the hearing told gathered media that the judge requested silence from all parties in the case following the in-chambers meeting.

While the meeting was taking place, Bothuell confirmed the proposed deal to media in the courtroom but said it was “a matter of principle” to reject it.

“I should be able to fight for justice. I’m innocent, I’ve never committed a crime in my life,” he said.

“I’m a registered nurse, I’ve taken care of people for years. I’m a former foster parent of three, a father of four and a grandfather of two,” he said. “I shouldn’t have to get up there and admit to something I didn’t do. I just want to believe in the justice system.”

Bothuell IV is due back in court Friday for a motions hearing and the trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 17, according to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

The man faces a second-degree child abuse charge in the case, stemming from his son Charlie Bothuell V’s disappearance from the family’s home. The boy, then 12, was found June 25, 2014, in their basement after an 11-day search.

A judge earlier this year dropped torture charges against the boy’s father and stepmother. The pair previously faced life in prison. Bothuell VI now faces 10 years on the child abuse charge.

Stepmother Monique Dillard-Bothuell accepted a misdemeanor plea deal involving no jail time, Bothuell IV confirmed in court Tuesday. The deal includes wiping her record after six months if she stays out of trouble, he said.

“That got the kids home after a year and a half of being out of the home (in foster care). There was no reason for them to be out of the home, ” he said. “They had her plead guilty to a crime but gave her the kids back. It’s ridiculous.”

Bothuell IV clarified he believed Dillard-Bothuell was a “good mother” who deserved custody of their two children, including one with autism whose symptoms “regressed” in foster care. But Bothuell IV said did not understand why authorities would agree to a deal involving a criminal charge while still allowing the woman to keep custody of the children.

The pair remain married but have been separated since the criminal proceedings began, Bothuell IV said. He visits the children in Dillard-Bothuell’s care every weekend.

Bothuell IV said he may have considered a deal if he had been the children’s only caregiver.

“But since they’re home (with Dillard-Bothuell), since they’re out of the line of fire, I want to fight for justice,” he said.

Bothuell IV’s two children not living with Dillard-Bothuell include an adult daughter and Charlie V, now 14, who lives with his biological mother, Bothuell IV said.

Bothuell IV on Tuesday expressed relief the torture charge was dismissed last year, sparing him the risk of life in prison.

“I wish the judge had dismissed it all,” he said. “I just gotta face it.”

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

Bothuell IV’s attorney, Shawn Patrick Smith, has said he planned to file a motion to have the child abuse charge dismissed or reduced. Smith was not present in court Tuesday.

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

Stepmother Monique Dillard-Bothuell’s attorney, Godfrey Dillard, has said the boy was not physically abused by his client.

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

HFournier@detroitnews.com

(313) 223-4616

@HollyPFournier