Detective accused of abusing stepson, 10 Boy was handcuffed and struck with a belt, court documents say

October 17, 1997|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

A detective with the Baltimore County Police Department has been suspended without pay after allegations that he handcuffed, slapped and lashed with a belt his 10-year-old stepson.

Court documents charging John Rau, 39, of the 1200 block of Maiden Choice Lane with felony child abuse and second-degree assault state that the 16-year police veteran threw the child against a wall and wrote "THIEF" on his forehead with a red felt-tipped marker on Oct. 9 because he thought the child had taken $15 from him.

The child, whose identity is not being published in The Sun because of his age, has been put in foster care, said Baltimore County police spokesman Bill Toohey yesterday.

Toohey declined to comment further on the case or to provide details of the officer's departmental record. Rau could not be reached for comment yesterday.

According to a police report included in the charging documents, the incident began when the boy came home from school.

The boy told police that a few days earlier, he had found money on the bathroom floor behind the toilet -- "mostly quarters," some dollar bills and a $5 bill. On the afternoon of Oct. 9, he came home and Rau, whom the child called "Dad," asked him what he had eaten for lunch that day and whether it was good.

The boy answered that he had had a ham sandwich, cookies and pretzels. Rau said "how were the onion rings," according to the report. Then, the child told police, "his dad slapped him in the face with the back of his hand and picked him up by his shirt and threw him into the wall in the living room.

"He put handcuffs on him with his hands behind his back and dragged him to the front door. He said, 'I won't take you to jail this time, but next time I will.' [the child] said his dad kept slapping him and throwing him into furniture, CDs and a chest of drawers in the living room. His dad kept calling him 'garbage.' "

After the initial confrontation, the child told police, he was sent to his room.

A few minutes later, his mother, who is not identified by name in the report and who has not been charged, came into his room. She hit the boy five times with a belt, according to the court documents; his stepfather came back and hit him 15 times with a belt and slapped him again.

Court documents show that a summons was issued for Rau after officials at Arbutus Middle School saw bruises and traces of the word "THIEF" on the child's face and called the Department of Social Services. The school and DSS declined to comment yesterday.

DSS notified the Family Crimes section of the Baltimore County Police Department. An officer went to the school and interviewed the child a day later.

"I observed that [the child] had several vertical bruises on his left cheek extending from his eyebrow to the bottom of his jaw line," the report said. "His left ear was black and blue at the top and behind his ear was also black and blue. [The boy] said that he could not hear out of his left ear at all because of being smacked."

The officer's report indicated the child had more bruises on his legs, arms, shoulders and rib cage.

Court documents indicate that a summons was issued for Rau, rather than an arrest warrant, and he is scheduled to appear for trial Nov. 19.

If convicted, he could be sentenced to as many as 25 years in prison and fined $2,500.

Pub Date: 10/17/97

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