Prosecutors say an 11-year-old Delaware County boy nearly died after an adult family member punched him in the abdomen. Investigators say the suspect was "performing a gut check" to “toughen up” the boy.
The victim was 10 when this happened, but just marked a birthday at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, recovering from surgery to save his life.
35-year-old Michael Smith appeared before a Delaware County judge Thursday morning, accused of a violent assault on a 10-year-old family member.
"The defendant in this case was allegedly performing a ‘gut check’ to toughen him up. (He) punched him in stomach and caused his stomach to be distended," said Doug Dumolt with the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office. "There is a broken rib on one side. On the other side there is a ruptured bowel, distended stomach, broken fingers."
The Delaware County Sheriff's Office says the injuries went untreated for several days.
By the time the boy received medical attention, they say the situation was life-threatening.
Family members of Smith say he took the boy to St. Ann's hospital three weeks ago when he noticed him vomiting. But they deny it was Smith's actions that sent him there.
Off camera, they told 10TV the boy has been suffering bullying and beatings by classmates at school. They insist that's how he got hurt.
Prosecutors say the evidence shows otherwise.
"This isn't first incident that's happened,” said Dumolt. “He has previous injuries that have been discovered by the people down at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He has described receiving black eyes and he has other healing injuries at this time."
They also contend the boy's mother was allowing the abuse to happen, and could also face charges.
10TV was there today as Children Services removed the boy's 20-month-old sister from the home of a family member.
A judge ordered Smith held on $50,000 bond on charges of felonious assault and child endangering.
The hospital was not able to release any information on the boy's condition. When he is released, prosecutors say it will not be into the custody of his mother, but Delaware County Children Services.