The attorney for a man accused of brutally beating his foster son defended his client and had harsh words for the alleged victim.
"This young man is an unapologetic, unrepentant thief," said Michael Quinn, the attorney for 48-year-old Claybon Hawthorne.
On April 30, police say Claybon's wife, Renee Fennell Hawthorne, accused her 12-year-old foster son of using her credit card to buy an iPhone. Renee called Claybon, who arrived at her home on the 600 block of Brooke Road in Glenside. Claybon, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 330 pounds, allegedly dragged the boy into a room, locked the door, and beat him with a metal belt buckle. Police say the buckle eventually broke and Claybon began to use a metal broom handle. After that broke, he allegedly used a second broomstick to continue the beating.
Police say the assault lasted more than 20 minutes. Hawthorne then allegedly ordered the boy to clean up his face with peroxide and throw away his bloody clothes. Sources close to the investigation say Renee was in the room the entire time during the beating.
The next day, a DHS case worker arrived at the home. Renee allegedly told the child, “you better not tell them what happened or I’m going to call Clay back here.” Police say the case worker noticed the boy’s injuries and took him to the hospital. According to investigators, the boy had welts, bruises and a gash to his face that required 18 stitches to close. Hospital workers contacted police. Police say the boy then told them about the abuse.
Hawthorne was arrested on Friday and charged with aggravated assault. He is currently being held in the Montgomery County Prison on $125,000 bail. His wife was arrested Monday and charged with tampering with evidence and endangering the welfare of a child. She is currently being held on $99,000 bail. Sources close to the investigation tell NBC10's Deanna Durante that she could eventually face more charges.
According to online records, Claybon Hawthorne has been arrested several times in Philadelphia and even pleaded guilty to drug possession charges. Despite this, he was still allowed to care for foster children. A DHS spokeswoman told NBC10's Deanna Durante that they couldn't' comment on this due to privacy laws. However, the spokeswoman also said that not all criminal convictions prevent someone from being a foster parent.
Quinn defended his client on Wednesday, denying the allegation that it was a prolonged assault and also claiming the boy's injuries were accidental and that Claybon didn't mean to hurt him.
"From what I understand, there was a broom handle that had a shard on it," said Quinn. "When he accidentally hit him with the broom handle, it caused the stitches."
Quinn also claimed the boy had used his foster parents' credit cards numerous times and was running up their bills.
Officials say the Hawthorne's had several adopted children in their home. Those kids have been placed in the care of the Montgomery County Office of Children and Families.