A father and stepmother accused of torturing and abusing their 12-year-old son in Detroit have escaped the most serious charge of torture after a district judge threw it out, the Detroit Free Press reports.
That charge would have had the father, Charlie Bothuell IV, and stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, facing the possibility of punishment as severe as life in prison. After hearing 11 days of testimony, including the child's account, the judge decided to dismiss the torture charge, though, claiming that the boy, Charlie Bothuell V, now 13, did not "tell the truth."
Charlie, who had been reported missing in June 2014, was found in his basement—where his stepmother had reportedly told him to stay—11 days later.
"It's more than just a child being confused and being afraid," 36th District Judge Shannon Holmes said, pointing to inconsistencies in the boy's story.
According to the news report, Charlie testified that his stepmother brought him food and that he sometimes sneaked upstairs to take things to eat. When speaking with FBI investigators, however, Charlie had said he was never brought food.
The judge did consider the boy's testimony about alleged abuse by his parents, including the use of a plastic PVC pipe to discipline him, leaving scars and bruises on his body. The judge has bound Bothuell IV and his wife on a second-degree child abuse charge for arraignment in early July.
According to the report, Holmes reduced bond for the pair to a $50,000 personal bond. If convicted of the abuse charge, they could face as much prison time as 10 years.
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