A family therapist who works to keep young men out of the child welfare system has been jailed on charges he badly beat his adopted 11-year-old son for not doing his homework.
Christopher Spann, 52, of Pittsburgh, remained jailed Friday, a day after his arraignment on charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and endangering the welfare of a child. Spann pleaded not guilty.
The boy told police he didn’t want to do his homework Tuesday and tossed it in the trash, prompting the beating, which the boy said spanned three hours as he argued with his father about the homework.
Salvation Army workers called police Wednesday after the boy arrived for an after-school program with a black eye, lumps on his head, marks on his face and neck and bruises on his legs.
The boy contends Spann has beaten him several times in the past, but that Tuesday’s incident was the worst, according to a police complaint.
The boy told police Spann kept him out of school Wednesday because of the visible marks on his face, and instead took the boy to work with him at Small Seeds Development, a nonprofit where Spann has worked as a subcontractor for two years.
The agency does work for a county program, Inua Ubuntu, that is specifically designed to keep young black males out of the county child welfare system.
Andrew Cheeseboro, chief executive officer of Small Seeds Development, wouldn’t comment on Spann’s employment status. He said his employees are mandated to report child abuse, and “there’s no way any of my staff would see bruises and not report it.”
Police notified the county’s Children, Youth and Families agency, which has placed Spann’s son in foster care.
“After speaking with the young boy, it was apparent to me that he is a genuine and respectful kid, and it is upsetting to see him in such a situation,” police Lt. Jason Lando said.
When officers went to arrest Spann at his home Wednesday night, a county caseworker was there with a teenage boy whom Spann had planned to begin foster parenting, police said.