Over the weekend, the celebrity news organization reported Howard had been cleared by the Florida Department of Children and Families from allegations brought forth by the boy's mother, Royce Reed, who reportedly filed a complaint in August alleging Howard had whipped their son with a belt.
On Monday, however, TMZ obtained DCF documents that support Reed's claim. The doctor assigned to investigate the alleged abuse reportedly discovered injuries "consistent with Braylon being struck with the buckle end of the belt" and "consistent with a medical diagnosis of physical abuse."
While Howard's representatives denied any abuse to TMZ, the website claimed Howard had admitted striking his son to authorities. He reportedly used the same excuse Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson offered in defense of allegedly "whooping" his 4-year-old with tree branches and belts — that he was simply mimicking the corporal punishment approach he had experienced himself as a child.
Peterson, of course, agreed to a plea deal in Texas, resulting in probation, 80 hours of community service and a $4,000 fine for his transgressions. He has not been reinstated by the NFL since the abuse case came to light. Howard, however, has been cleared of any wrongdoing in Florida, is enjoying a resurgence as basketball's most dominant center in Houston and even recently filed for full custody of his son. If that seems like a strange juxtaposition, consider his attorney's statement to the Orlando Sentinel.
"It is troubling to see a mother use her son as a pawn against his father, which is what is happening in this case," the statement reads. "Dwight Howard will continue to act in the best interest of his children and do whatever is necessary to protect their welfare and best interests."
Reed, a former Orlando Magic dancer turned "Basketball Wives" star for four seasons, denied that claim in an Instagram post. The two sides have battled it out in court before — with Howard winning a $500,000 defamation lawsuit against his former girlfriend that has yet to be settled, according to the Los Angeles Times. Regardless of who's version of events is the proper one in this he-said, she-said battle, it's important to remember there's a 6-year-old boy in the middle, and abuse doesn't just come in the form of bruises.
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