State: Boy found in basement was abused over grueling workouts


State authorities plan to urge a judge today to terminate the parental rights of the father of a 12-year-old boy who was found barricaded in the basement of his Detroit home days after disappearing last month.

After investigators interviewed the boy twice, the Department of Human Services alleges that Charlie Bothuell V was subjected to daily, rigorous workouts involving sit-ups, weight-lifting and an elliptical machine. Charlie told investigators he was harshly disciplined for underperforming.

According to a petition to terminate the parental rights of the father, Charlie Bothuell IV, the boy was punched by his step-mother and ordered to hide in the basement and pretend he was missing.

The father, the petition alleges, often hit the boy with a PVC pipe for not meeting high workout standards.

The state also plans to ask the Wayne County juvenile court to grant custody to the boy’s mother, with whom Charlie is currently living.

The mystery surrounding Charlie’s June 14 disappearance gained national attention when his father appeared on Nancy Grace to appeal for help finding the boy.┬áDuring the televised interview, Grace broke news to the father that his son had been found in the basement.

Bothuell responded by puffing his cheeks and breathing heavily, saying he was overwhelmed by the discovery.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Marc Wigle

    I’d be REALLY careful about believing what this kid is saying…there are two sides to every story. He wouldn’t be the first 12 year old to make up crap about his terrible parents… we all did.

    • Yeahbutstill

      CPS investigations must be corroborated, or “substantiated” in the jargon, before further action is taken. Once CPS has completed its investigation, DHS has the discretion to file a petition seeking termination of parental rights based on the investigation (and, in the most serious cases, DHS must request termination). The child’s interview will not be the only evidence against a parent whose parental rights are sought to be terminated. State authorities have a very high burden to satisfy in order to convince a family-court judge that parental rights should be terminated. Consistent with the dearth of resources in Wayne County, those petitions that are actually filed are generally authorized and almost always result in the termination of the parent’s rights.

  • bebow

    Termination of parental rights will relieve the father and step-mother of all responsibility to financially support this child and his siblings. Is that a good plan, especially in this case?

    • sarahgray

      Terminating parental rights does not terminate obligations, necessarily.

      • Yeahbutstill

        Sarah: In re Beck held that an existing support obligation need not be terminated. Do you know whether new obligations can be created contemporaneously with or subsequent to termination?

        Edit: It looks like MCL 722.3 imposes a duty of support on all parents until the duty is terminated, even if neither parent has custody of the child. Interesting.

        • sarahgray

          The right to spend time with your child is not related to the primary obligation to support them.
          The duty to support one’s 12 year old child is not a “new obligation”.

          Yes, in situations where someone besides the biological parents has custody of, but has not adopted, a child, the parents are legally obligated to materially support their child according to the formula set by the state.

      • bebow

        I stand corrected.

  • Dust Buster

    man kid looks like a happy young man. never guess he was living with those assholes that treated him like that.