DETROIT (WXYZ) - The father and stepmother of 12-year old Charlie Bothuell V were back in court today for another hearing on the state’s case to terminate their parental rights.
The couple, Charlie Bothuell IV and Monique Dillard-Bothuell, are accused of abusing little Charlie, who had been missing 11 days and was later discovered in his father’s Detroit basement.
The state filed a petition with the juvenile court alleging that Charlie’s step-mother had hid the boy in the basement and threatened him repeatedly. His father is accused of physically abusing him with a PVC pipe, according to the state’s court filings.
For the first time at court, 7 Action News spoke to Charlie's mother, Africa Shippings, who has had custody of her son since he was found. Shippings said her son is doing well, and was shocked by the allegations against her ex-husband and his wife because there was no history of abuse.
“There was no history of this,” reiterated attorney Marc Shreeman, who represents Shippings, who also said the couple’s co-parenting of Charlie had always gone “reasonably well.”
Asked if Charlie has talked about his father, Shreeman declined to answer, but added Shippings intends to seek full custody of her son.
Charlie has had no contact with his father since he has been in his mother’s custody, said Shreeman.
The court petition said that Charlie told investigators that his stepmother put him in the basement and barricaded him behind boxes and tote bags. She also told him not to come out no matter what he hears.
Charlie’s dad and stepmother began saying Charlie was missing on the evening of June 14, though, they say, Detroit Police did not make an official report until two days later.
When Detroit Police and FBI agents discovered Charlie during a fourth search of the home, he was in a scrunched-down position, but emerged when officers began talking to him.
Charlie’s dad and stepmother said at today’s hearing that they want a jury trial on the case to terminate their parental rights to Charlie and his two half siblings. The younger children are staying with their grandma, Monique Dillard Bothuell’s mother. The couple are allowed supervised visits.
The trial is scheduled to begin September 8, at 9:30am. Shreenman said the younger Charlie will likely be called to testify.