Many parents struggle with finding the appropriate discipline for their teens. But a Douglasville father is facing charges after repeatedly forcing his 16-year-old to walk more than three miles while carrying a 25-pound landscape brick in the heat of the day.
Investigators say the man called the punishment for his 4-2, 135-pound son "Walking the Green Mile."
Charlie Mayes, 40, of Douglasville was charged with first degree child cruelty and made his first court appearance Monday in Douglas County Magistrate Court for a bond hearing.
According to the arrest warrant that was read aloud by Judge Joel Dodson, Mayes made his son walk from Kings Highway to his home in The Fairways once on Friday, twice on Saturday and again on Sunday. Each time Mayes required his son to carry a concrete block used for landscaping that law enforcement officials say weighed about 25 pounds.
Reports indicate that the punishment was a result of the child watching YouTube videos when he was supposed to be working and not completing educational assignments that his father assigned. The punishment was reported by Domino's pizza delivery driver Joshua Burnette who had seen the obviously exhausted boy and asked if he needed help.
"I got to work and saw him there and I asked if he was alright," Burnete said. "I know now he was 16, but he is a little guy, I thought he must be about 9 or 10 at the most. He was sweating, dirty and was obviously tired. He asked if I could give him a ride so I checked with my boss and he said it was OK. He picked up this massive brick and asked if he could put in in the truck.
"I thought that was strange, but when I took him down that way he asked me to drop him off and I did. He didn't say much but when he got out he just stood there."
Burnette said that a few hours later with temperatures near 90, he saw the boy again along Kings Highway. That's when he said he knew something wasn't right. After quizzing the boy, he found out it was punishment and that he had to do the walk with the brick in two hours or less or he would have to do it all over again.
"I know that punishment is something we have all had to deal with, from spankings to maybe cutting the grass," Burnette said. "But to walk that far, with no water or money to get something to drink in the heat of the day? I'm a grown man and I don't think I could do that in two hours. I didn't know what to do, but I called the police and just let them know what was going on and they took it from there.
Mayes, an military veteran with no prior criminal history, said that his son has a history of trouble in school dating back three years. This year, Mayes said they decided to home school the victim, but claims the issues continued.
"I had tried everything else and noting seemed to work," Mayes told Dodson in his bond hearing. "I know it may be an adult punishment and he is a 16-year-old boy. It was something we did when I was in the military. The sergeant would have us move rocks. I know how it sounds, but we did that all the time."
Mayes tried to justify his discipline by saying that he checked on his son and walked with him at times.
Lt. Steven Morris of the Douglasville Police Department said that the issues were the time, distance, the route and the temperature.
"We are talking about a boy who is very small, and I saw the brick, it was at least 25 pounds," Morris said. "We are talking about more than three miles of very busy roads often in the heat of the day. That puts the child in danger in so many ways. Traffic, physical exhaustion and all for basically being a teenager."
Morris said at about 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, officers were working a DUI traffic accident and while officers were involved with that, the boy and his father walked by the scene. The boy was seen carrying something.
"When the report came in our guys realized that they had seen this the night before," Morris said. "Right there on the dashboard video they were able to identify the father and the victim walking in the middle of the night."
Investigators said that the Division of Family and Children Services has been contacted and is looking into the case.
Dodson listened to all that Mayes said, read the report and set bond at $3,500. A no harm provision was placed in bond conditions and Dodson ordered family counseling for Mayes.
Jail records show that Mayes made bond and was released from custody at 3:34 p.m. Monday.
"This is a somewhat unusual case," Dodson said. "I don't know what will work in terms of discipline for the child, but I can assure you that this isn't one of them."