A Burlingame man is facing a possible life sentence for allegedly forcing his 13-year-old autistic son to drink more than a dozen juice boxes as punishment for being sent home from school, prosecutors said.
Jason McGlown, 35, pleaded not guilty Thursday to allegations that he brutally punished the developmentally disabled child Feb. 13 after the boy got into trouble for stealing a juice box at a San Bruno middle school, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.
McGlown reportedly went to the school to pick up his son, who lives with McGlown’s estranged wife in San Bruno, and brought him to his Burlingame home. There, McGlown forced his son to guzzle up to 16 8-ounce juice boxes until he vomited, Wagstaffe said.
McGlown then whipped the child with the leather-end of a belt, leaving noticeable welts and bruises on his buttocks and back, prosecutors said.
Wagstaffe said teachers at the school found out about the abuse the following day, when the boy was reluctant to sit down.
"Teachers asked him why, and he said his buttocks hurt and they checked him and found the bruises," Wagstaffe said.
The boy was sent home from school Feb. 13 after administrators contacted McGlown’s estranged wife and told her that the boy stole a juice box at school, Wagstaffe said.
McGlown, who has two prior convictions for felony assault, including one against the boy’s mother, was not legally restricted from seeing his son, Wagstaffe said. The child’s mother is not facing charges, he said.
McGlown’s attorney William Johnston said there is a fine line between abuse and child-rearing approaches.
"The law clearly allows us to utilize corporal punishment," Johnston said. "To me, this may very well fall into that grey area."
If convicted, McGlown faces 25 years to life in prison under the three-strikes law. He remains in county jail on $100,000 bail, Wagstaffe said.