Mother of boy left in hotel room posts bail

Woman charged in abuse of disabled 8-year-old

September 21, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Police aren't sure how long the 8-year-old child from Texas was left unsupervised in a downtown Baltimore hotel room wearing only his underwear, his hands bound behind his back with the belt of a terry cloth robe.

By the time a hotel worker entered about 8 p.m. Saturday to turn down the sheets and found the child, who suffers from a developmental disorder, he was running in circles around the room at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel, according to court documents released yesterday.

He had lash marks on his thighs and right arm, according to police.

When his mother, Corinne Bohanon, 42, returned to the room, she was carrying dinner for two and a shopping bag from the clothing store Casual Corner. Police, alerted by the hotel, were waiting for her.

Bohanon was arrested and charged with crimes including child abuse, assault and reckless endangerment. She could be sentenced to 33 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

The mother told police she had become angry with her son after he misbehaved during their visit to the National Aquarium, according to court documents.

Bohanon -- a homemaker with a degree from Northwestern University -- was in town to have her son tested at the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a facility for treatment of children with developmental disabilities, according to her lawyer, William R. Buie III.

She was held over the weekend in jail. At a hearing yesterday afternoon, a District Court judge set bail at $200,000, which Bohanon posted last night, according to Buie.

The judge also prohibited her from contact with her son until the case is resolved. The boy is now in state custody.

Bohanon's preliminary hearing is scheduled Oct. 19.

The child suffers from a developmental disorder called Fragile X syndrome. Buie said the boy can speak about 35 words, and must be coaxed into talking. He also said the child is hyperactive.

Bohanon lives in the Dallas suburb of Allen with her husband and two children, the lawyer said.

According to Buie, the incident began at the National Aquarium Saturday, when Bohanon's son made a scene by pulling another child's hair.

The mother was angry after they left the aquarium and went back to their room at the Renaissance, according to charging documents.

She then "whipped his tail with a belt," police documents show.

"She felt that she needed time away from the child for fear of what she would do next," according to the records. "So she went out to get food for her and her son."

Before she left the room, Bohanon secured her son's hands behind his back with a terry cloth belt, documents show.

When she returned, several police officers had entered her room and untied the child.

Buie, who asked the judge for $50,000 bail, said the Bohanons have had a difficult time raising their son.

"These are relatively good people from a good family who came to Baltimore to get some of the specialized treatment we offer here," he said. "She was here to better her child's life."

Charging documents show mother and son checked into the Renaissance Friday but had been in Baltimore since Wednesday. For two nights, they stayed at the Tremont Plaza Hotel, police records show.

Bohanon's husband, Carlos Bohanon, and their young daughter were in Texas when the incident occurred. They flew in for her bail hearing but declined to speak with a reporter when it was over.

During the hearing, Bohanon wore a jail-issue jumpsuit and stared blankly ahead as the charges were read.

She barely glanced at a prosecutor, who wondered aloud what other kind of abuse her 8-year-old has suffered.

"This seems more a parent venting their own anger and frustration than teaching him a lesson," said Assistant State's Attorney David Chiu. "We don't know what kind of criminal activity has been going on in the past eight years of the child's life."

Pointing to medical privacy regulations, the Kennedy Krieger Institute would not confirm whether the Bohanons had an appointment at the facility.

Dr. Walter Kaufmann, director of the Fragile X program at Kennedy Krieger, explained that the syndrome causes mental retardation and hyperactivity.

He said children with Fragile X often have social anxiety and can become overwhelmed by sounds, touch and light.

Parents frequently become frustrated by their children's aggressive behavior, he said, but they contribute to the problem if they use physical punishment.

"Corporal punishment is not acceptable under any conditions," Kaufmann said.

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