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CALEDONIA, WI – A father was charged with child abuse for choking his son, who has a mental illness, in a Kmart bathroom.

James Bowe, 51, of Caledonia, was charged by the Racine County District Attorney’s Office with physical abuse of a child, intentionally causing bodily harm and disorderly conduct. If convicted of both charges, Bowe faces up to six years three months in prison and/or fines up to $11,100.

According to the criminal complaint, officers with the Caledonia Police Department were called to a report of possible child abuse in progress on June 29 at Kmart, 5141 Douglas Avenue.

A witness told police she heard a child screaming in the bathroom. Bowe had the child in a headlock and was “dragging him out of the bathroom.” He then lifted the child off the ground “by the throat with one hand and began choking the child before leaving.”

The man then took the child to Cost Cutters. When police arrived, they confronted Bowe who explained that his son has mental health issues and he had defecated in his pants.

Bowe told police that he took him into the bathroom to clean him up when his son became combative and that he put his son in a headlock and dragged him out of the store, the complaint reads.

The officer asked if anything else had happened. Bowe said no. When the officer asked if he had picked him up by the throat and lifted him off the ground, Bowe became defensive.

The boy, who had been crying and appeared ashamed, told police he was yelling at his dad that he didn’t want to stay with him. That’s when his dad put him in a headlock and choked him, according to the complaint.

During the arrest, Bowe cursed at the police and began to pull away. He also cursed at the witness and told the police, “You don’t understand” and “How can you take their word over mine??”

Racine County Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch set a cash bond of $3,000. Bowe is expected to have a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. August 7.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.