By Serena Maria Daniels
DETROIT (Reuters) - A Detroit boy who was missing for 11 days last June before police found him emaciated in his own basement suffered years of social isolation, excessive exercise and beatings, a doctor said on Friday in a hearing on abuse charges against his parents.
The then-12-year-old child had scars on his chest and buttocks and told medical staff his father had been beaten him with a pipe, his skin was dirty and he hadn't eaten or even used the bathroom in days, Dr. Dena Nazer told a Wayne County court.
"He was also threatened to be killed and told no one would know because he was home-schooled," Nazer said.
Charles Bothuell IV, 46, and his wife, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, 37, the boy's step-mother, are charged with torture and second-degree child abuse. Torture carries up to life in prison and second-degree child abuse up to four years.
Prosecutors have said the child's parents physically abused him, depriving him of food, banishing him to the basement and forcing to perform extreme exercise. The preliminary examination is to decide whether they should stand trial on the charges.
Nazer testified that the boy's daily exercise regime, which was considered in the medical community as a form of physical assault, included hundreds of pushups, sit-ups and 4,000 revolutions of work on an elliptical machine.
Bothuell's attorney, Shawn Patrick Smith, told reporters after the hearing that a family physician ordered the strenuous workout regime in 2011 because the child was severely obese. He also said his client was innocent of child abuse charges.
Smith said the boy was never in the basement.
"He's a liar," Smith said of the child.
The boy's father had reported him missing on June 14, triggering a widespread police search that came up empty until Michigan State Police sergeant and an FBI agent found him alive and hungry barricaded behind boxes in the basement of his house.
Fellow defense attorney Denise Alter said investigators with police dogs entered the basement and did not find the boy.
"It's not possible that dogs came down there, trained or not trained, and had not known he was there," Alter said.
The child is expected to testify for the prosecution when the hearing continues in April.
(Reporting by Serena Maria Daniels in Detroit; Editing by David Bailey and Sandra Maler)