DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit man whose missing son was found in the basement after a highly publicized 11-day search pleaded guilty Tuesday to misdemeanor child abuse, closing a case that began more than 18 months with torture allegations involving a plastic pipe.
Charlie Bothuell IV was immediately sentenced to 18 months of probation and is prohibited from having contact with his son, Charlie Bothuell V.
“This process broke my family and my finances. It’s time for me to move forward and begin rebuilding my life,” the elder Bothuell, 47, said.
The boy, 12 at the time, was reported missing from his home in June 2014. After 11 days, police searching the cluttered basement found him behind a barrel. The discovery led to an investigation of Bothuell and the boy’s stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, amid allegations that the boy was a victim of abuse for years.
Bothuell was on live cable TV with host Nancy Grace when he learned that Charlie had been found. He said he didn’t know his son was in the basement.
“I thought my son was dead,” the stunned father told reporters at the time.
The boy testified last year that his stepmother sent him to the basement because he had interrupted his mandatory workout, which involved hundreds of situps, pushups and thousands of revolutions on an elliptical machine. He described his home as a “terrible place” and said he was too scared to come out of the basement and seek help, even when police were in the house.
But Judge Shannon Holmes said the story was not believable and dismissed charges of torture, leaving only child abuse charges.
Dillard-Bothuell earlier accepted a plea deal, but her record will be erased if she stays out of trouble for six months.
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