ST. PETERSBURG — James Spencer Adams told police that he was just roughhousing with the boy, that it was all an accident.
St. Petersburg police say that cannot explain how the hook of a plastic hanger ended up being jammed down the throat of an 8-year-old on Wednesday, leaving him bleeding.
It had to be intentional, police say, and they know who did it: Adams, the boy's 63-year-old stepgrandfather.
"There is no rhyme or reason to it," said Sgt. Katy Connor-Dubina. "I don't have a clue why he would do this."
Soon after he was injured, police say, the boy went to his mother, who took him to a hospital, where doctors called the Department of Children and Families, which led state workers to call police.
Adams was arrested early Thursday morning on a charge of aggravated child abuse and held in lieu of $125,000 bail. Police withheld the victim's name.
Connor-Dubina used both hands to demonstrate how Adams might have held the bottom of the hanger as he forced the hook down the struggling boy's throat — police think he may have pinned the child to the ground while he did it.
"Whatever happened got way out of hand," said Connor-Dubina, who heads the agency's crimes-against-children unit.
The boy told police he never wanted to roughhouse with Adams, who told police it was just an accident. His arrest report said he admitted to "guiding the hanger" into the child's mouth, then cleaning blood from it.
Adams has been arrested and convicted of driving under the influence several times, according to state records, the last arrest coming in 2001. He was also arrested on a charge of possession of cocaine in 1986.
The hanger caused a puncture which left the boy bleeding from his mouth, according to Connor-Dubina, The hanger also tore the victim's tonsils and caused other internal throat injuries that required him to spend the night at All Children's Hospital.
The child was able to speak when he went to the hospital, police say. His condition was unknown Thursday.
Adams pleaded not guilty when he made his first court appearance Thursday. A judge ordered him not to have any contact with his stepgrandson.
Researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Jamal Thalji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8472.