A Paulding County grand jury on Monday handed down the indictment charging the teen’s stepfather, Paul, and mother, Sheila Comer, with seven counts of cruelty to children, two counts of false imprisonment and one count of kidnapping.
The Comers were arrested last month and accused of abusing 18-year-old Mitch Comer. They are being held without bond.
Lawyers for the Comers did not immediately return calls Tuesday, but they have previously said their clients are innocent and another side of the story will come out at trial.
The indictment alleges the Comers caused the teen physical and mental harm before his 18th birthday in September by depriving him of food, confining him in a room, refusing to provide medical assistance, punching him in the jaw and kicking him in the groin.
Detectives investigating the case testified at a probable cause hearing earlier this month that Mitch Comer was confined to a bathroom and bedroom for years and was given little food. He told police he was sometimes forced to kneel on the floor for hours with his forehead against a wall, his hands behind his head and his feet lifted off the ground.
A Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office report says state Department of Family and Children’s Services workers alerted them to a report about Paul and Sheila Comer in February 2009.
At the time, the Cromers lived in the 900 block of Mill Creek Avenue in Canton, according to the report.
The case was closed after no evidence of abuse was found, said Lt. Col. Ron Hunton, head of criminal investigations for the Sheriff’s Office.
The incident report says the couple’s son claimed his parents made him get on his knees and rest his head against a wall with his hands behind him for hours at a time. The son’s name was redacted from the report.
The son also said the father spanked him with a belt for no reason, according to the sheriff’s office report.
“This was a DFACS referral back in ’09 and our detective worked with the agency on the case,” Hunton told the Tribune. “DFACS investigated and closed their case. There was no evidence to support that any criminal acts had occurred.”
His stepfather put a blanket over his head and put him in a van to drive him to Mississippi to catch a bus to Los Angeles on Sept. 8, the day after his birthday, he told investigators. He told authorities his stepfather gave him a few hundred dollars and a list of homeless shelters before putting him on the bus.
A retired police sergeant working security at a downtown Los Angeles bus station noticed Mitch Comer on Sept. 11. Police decided to investigate further because the 87-pound teenage boy stood just over 5 feet tall and looked much younger, Los Angeles police said last month. The teen told authorities he had suffered from years of abuse after being taken out of school in the eighth grade.