By Teresa L. Benns
CRESTONE — The father of a 12-year-old Crestone boy allegedly kidnapped and taken to Utah last month by a non-family member has been arrested and charged with child abuse occurring before the boy disappeared June 23.
The boy was later released into his father’s custody on June 29.
According to a report from the Saguache County Sheriff’s Office, James Roe, admitted to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation agent, interviewing him after his son’s disappearance, that he disciplined his son with a belt on a regular basis. Roe’s girlfriend confirmed she had witnessed the incidents and did not agree with the form of discipline used.
Evidence of the abuse was discovered when doctors in Utah examined the boy following the arrest of his alleged abductor, David Freeman. At that time the juvenile told them the numerous old bruises on his leg were caused by a whipping he had received from his father just before leaving with Freeman. The examiner noted the bruises on the boy’s leg were consistent with belt marks. Some of the bruises, the boy told examiners, could have been caused, however, by falling on rocks.
The juvenile told doctors in Utah his father “beat the s**t out of me” and would have him pull down his pants and lift up his shirt when the disciplinary sessions began. He expressed the desire to live with someone else other than his father since he did not feel safe with him. Utah authorities examining the boy provided photographic evidence of the alleged abuse.
Following a review of the reports from Utah by the Department of Human Services and the Sixth District Juvenile Court, it was determined “there was substantial danger to the physical health or safety of the child.”
He was later removed from his father’s custody and placed by Saguache Social Services with a family friend. Social Services Director Linda Warsh said in an email Monday that her office is carefully monitoring the situation and is addressing concerns regarding the boy’s care.
An AMBER Alert was issued for Roe’s son on June 24.
The male juvenile was located with Freeman, 60, at a reservoir near the town of Panguitch, Utah. According to a Channel 31 KDVR/Denver report Monday, a campground manager near the reservoir, Tom Adams, called law enforcement after a stranger showed up at his office in a pick-up. The man said he had encountered both Freeman and the juvenile crouched in the dirt and dressed in nothing but sneakers up a nearby dirt road.
Adams called the sheriff’s office and Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Freeman without incident, CBI reported. He was charged with first-degree felony kidnapping and lewdness. According to Facebook posts, the boy did odd jobs for Freeman and Freeman’s father had requested that Freeman not have contact with his son.