Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard will not face charges of child abuse in connection with an investigation into alleged physical disciplining of his then-6-year-old son, Braylon.
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Royce Reed, Braylon's mother, filed a complaint against Howard in August alleging that Howard had whipped their son with a belt. A spokesperson for the Florida Department of Children and Families told TMZ in November that the investigation was "being closed with no substantiated findings of physical injuries." A subsequent TMZ report, however, indicated that the doctor who examined Braylon's injuries reported them as being consistent with a history "of being struck with a belt numerous times by his father."
While the allegation were reported in Florida, the alleged abuse in question was said to have taken place in Georgia. Following the TMZ reports, authorities in Georgia re-opened their investigation into child abuse claims against Howard. The 29-year-old center was not arrested or charged with any crime as authorities investigated the claims.
On Monday, nearly five months after the resumption of investigation, Atlanta police announced that they will not press charges against the eight-time All-Star, according to Mark Berman of KRIV-TV FOX 26 in Houston:
"I can confirm we are not moving forward with charges in this case," said Sgt. Gregory Lyon, in an email to FOX 26 Sports.
Howard's attorney, David Oscar Markus, is pleased with the decision.
"We are gratified that the Atlanta Police Department, after fully examining the frivolous allegations against Dwight Howard, has closed the case and decided not to proceed with charges," said Markus in a statement to FOX 26 Sports.
"Dwight Howard will continue to act in the best interest of his children and do whatever is necessary to protect their welfare."
Howard filed a motion in November seeking sole custody of Braylon that continues to wend its way through the courts, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
Howard has struggled with injuries this season, missing 37 games with an ailing right knee. Since returning to action 2 1/2 weeks ago, Howard has seen limited floor time, averaging just 21.6 minutes per game in eight appearances.
He's performed well in that curbed action, though, averaging 13.8 points on 66.2 percent shooting to go with nine rebounds and just under two combined blocks and steals per contest, including three sraight double-doubles. Along with the consistently strong play of MVP candidate James Harden, Howard's recent uptick in form has given a Rockets club that continues to fight tooth-and-nail in a battle for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference playoff hierarchy hope that, despite the other damaging injuries they've sustained of late, they've still got a real chance of advancing past the opening round of the playoffs for the first time since 2009, and past the conference semifinals for the first time since 1997.
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