Parents Defend Teen Accused of Beating Their Daughter

ByABC News

MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich., Jan. 7, 2005 -- -- A Richmond Township teenager, charged with using a baseball bat to end his girlfriend's pregnancy, was defended by the girl's parents after he made his first appearance in a Macomb County juvenile court.

And his lawyer used the case as a platform to campaign against any legislation limiting access to abortion.

The 16-year-old boy is a junior firefighter who volunteers for the elderly and has never had a school detention, lawyer Miranda Massie said on Thursday, defending him against charges of beating his girlfriend in the stomach with a 22-inch souvenir baseball bat.

The boy, who was arraigned on a felony charge of intentional conduct against a pregnant individual resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth, allegedly carried out the beating with the girl's consent, because they did not want to tell their parents she was pregnant, Massie said.

The girl sat in the back of the courtroom with her parents and the parents of the accused boy throughout the proceedings.

Judge Matt Switalski released the boy into the custody of his parents, and ordered that he and the girl have no contact outside of school events.

The boy allegedly repeatedly hit the girl in the abdomen with the bat over a two-week period, beginning in mid-September, attempting to induce a miscarriage, prosecutors said.

The 6-month-old male fetus was delivered around Oct. 4, and Michigan State Police found the body buried in the back yard of the boy's home in November, prosecutors said.

The girl faces no charges because, under Michigan law, only the person who carried out the action against the pregnant woman that results in a miscarriage or stillbirth is criminally liable, even if the woman consented.

Because of the boy's clean record and his age, he will be treated as a juvenile, and if he is convicted, he will be under the supervision of the juvenile court until he turns 21.

The boy said nothing during the arraignment, but after the proceedings the girl's father argued against the charges outside the court.

"I would just like to say that this is a very tragic situation," he said. "Two very good children thought that the one thing that they couldn't come to us with was this pregnancy. It's a shame, and this prosecution is a sham."

If convicted, the teenage boy, who has never had a sex education class, could be locked up for years.

"It's a shame that we as parents did not see any kind of signs of anything being wrong," the boy's father said.

Massie said she plans to challenge the charge, in part because the girl allegedly wanted her boyfriend to hit her in the stomach.

"That she consented to whatever contact occurred between them, that means, of necessity, as a bedrock, crystal-clear principle of Michigan law, that there is no assault," she said.

Prosecutor Eric Smith said the severity of the assault was such that no one could have truly consented to it.

The teenager's alleged actions were the result of restrictions on access to abortion, Massie contended.

"The bottom line is this: if this country keeps rolling back freedom of choice and rolling back abortion rights, what you're going to see is more children attempting to perform back alley abortions on themselves," she said.

The boy is scheduled to be in court again on March 8. Massie said she hopes to have the charge dropped at that hearing.

ABC News affiliate WXYZ-TV in Detroit contributed to this report.