Father and stepmother deny abusing 12-year-old Charlie Bothuell

DETROIT (AP) - A lawyer for a 12-year-old Detroit boy who was found in the basement of his home says the child is doing well living with his mother, while his father and stepmother deny any abuse and demand a jury trial in their fight for custody.

Attorney Arthur Bowman said during a hearing Thursday that Charlie Bothuell V is in good shape with the biological mother, where the boy was placed. A court referee continued an order suspending the father's visits pending the results of the son's court-ordered but still unperformed psychological evaluation.

Authorities allege that father Charlie Bothuell IV and stepmother Monique Dillard-Bothuell abused the boy. The state Department of Human Services has said the father acknowledges striking his son with a PVC pipe, and said in a court filing last week that the boy told authorities he was forced to rise before dawn for intense workouts of 100 pushups and even more situps.

They have not been criminally charged with abuse or in the boy's 11-day disappearance in June. Police are still investigating.

Thursday's hearing was about their rights to two other children, ages 4 and 11 months, as well as the father's rights to Charlie. The younger children have been placed with relatives.

"What's important is that they're fighting for their children," Stephanie Carson, lawyer for Charlie Bothuell IV, said after the hearing. "We believe once everything comes out, they'll be reunited with their children. They still love Charlie. They love all their children."

Mark Magidson, who had been the elder Bothuell's attorney and now represents Dillard-Bothuell, said he knows about the allegations but has been "stonewalled" in efforts to get evidence from investigators and has concerns about what has emerged so far.

"If that child was in the basement, I doubt whether the FBI, the Michigan State Police, the Detroit Police, the crime task force and Child Protective Services all searched that house and he (Charlie Bothuell V) somehow eluded them," Magidson said. "At some point during that 11-day interlude that he couldn't have been down there by himself for that entire time and not go undetected.

"So, I believe he did have help. The question is: Who helped him?"

The next hearing has been scheduled for July 28.

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Associated Press writer Mike Householder contributed to this report.

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