The child abuse case against Houston Rockets star Dwight Howard took on new life Monday, as the Cobb County Police Department opened a criminal investigation into the allegations that Howard used a belt buckle to beat his 6-year-old son Braylon in Georgia.
The case had been closed in Florida. The Department of Children and Families in Florida (DCF) had found credible the allegations from Royce Reed, the boy’s mother, but decided that they were not sufficient to meet the standard of proof to press charges.
But on Monday, Cobb County detectives, who had asked the recalcitrant Floridians for the file, read the findings of a doctor who examined the case, and decided to press forward. A source from Georgia law enforcement said, “People who were not so forthcoming before today [Monday] have been,” adding that after conducting additional one-on-one interviews on Monday, the case “has now been raised to top of the list.”
According to TMZ, the medical report stated, “Dr. Kesler noted Braylon to have a linear bruise and patterned abrasions consistent with the history given by Braylon of being struck with a belt numerous times by his father … (the injuries were) consistent with Braylon being struck with the buckle end of the belt … with excessive force, resulting in soft tissue injuries such as bruising and abrasions.” The report added that Kesler determined that Braylon’s injuries remained for over 24 hours and were “consistent with a medical diagnosis of physical abuse.”
Reed, a former Basketball Wives cast member, made the initial accusations in August, traveling to Children’s Services in the Orlando area to assert Howard had whipped his son on the leg with a belt. The case worker instructed the reality-television star to go to a nearby medical facility so Braylon could be evaluated. Howard allegedly confessed he had used a belt to discipline Braylon, but pleaded ignorance of the action’s wrongdoing because he had been whipped as a child.
Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson, who was indicted on charges of child abuse, also claimed he was physically disciplined as a child, prompting former NBA star Charles Barkley to claim to talk-show host Jim Rome that Peterson’s actions were a cultural phenomenon, saying:
I’m from the south. I understand Boomer’s [Esiason] rage and anger. He’s a white guy and I’m a black guy. I don’t know where he’s from. I’m from the south. Whipping — we do that all the time. Every black parent in the south is going to be in jail under those circumstances…. We spank kids in the south. I think the question about did Adrian Peterson go overboard…. Listen, Jim, we all grow up in different environments. Every black parent in my neighborhood in the south would be in trouble or in jail under those circumstances.”
Howard’s attorney initially filed papers claiming Howard had not caused marks, bruises, welts or injuries requiring medical treatment. When Reed got word that Florida might clear Howard, she posted on Instagram, “The case is not closed and he is/was not cleared! The investigation is still open as he refuses to speak to the police. So whoever these reps are that are trying to slander me, just know the gloves are off and I’m not the one to play with when it comes to my son. That is all.”
After Florida passed on charging Howard, his attorney asserted that Reed was “shopping her baseless allegations” to Georgia authorities. He concluded that Georgia would vindicate Howard because “the truth is on our side.” Howard’s reps said, “It is appalling to see a mother use her son as a pawn against his father in an attempt to extract money, which is what is happening in this case.”
Last Wednesday, Howard filed papers to gain full custody of his son. The documents assert that Reed has given Braylon psychotropic drugs as a “chemical babysitter.” Howard’s representative said, “It’s no coincidence that these false allegations were ‘leaked’ on the heels of Dwight filing for major custody of his son…. It is troubling to see a mother use her son as a pawn against his father,” and that Dwight will do “whatever is necessary to protect [the child’s] welfare and best interests.”