The three York children allegedly forced into sex acts and made to smoke marijuana by their mother’s boyfriend were removed from the home where the incidents took place and are in a safe environment, police said Thursday.
Police from several agencies including North Carolina were looking for Dontavious Byers for more than two weeks, but he was not found until Tuesday when officers found him hiding in a closet – in the same house where the children were allegedly assaulted.
The investigation continued Thursday into how the two boys and one girl – ages 6, 7 and 9 – were put into a position in which police say Byers had the opportunity to videotape sex acts among the children, beat them and their mother, force the children to perform sex acts on him and his brother and expose his private parts to them.
The children were immediately taken from the home after the original incident was reported to police in early July, said Capt. Brian Trail of the York Police Department.
“We can say that the children were taken from the home into custody, and they were taken to a safe place,” Trail said. “We are still investigating what happened.”
Police had arrest warrants against Byers since July 25, but they couldn’t find him until Tuesday. Byers was found hiding in a closet in the same Pinckney Street house where the alleged abuse took place, said Lt. Rich Caddell of the York Police Department.
State Department of Social Services officials confirmed to The Herald that DSS agents received a report about potential illegal activity at the home July 5 and referred that information to York police. Officers started an investigation July 6, police reports show. The children were interviewed July 21, according to arrest warrants, and they detailed allegations of sex, drug and other crimes.
One child told police she watched Byers and her mother smoke marijuana. One told police that he told his mother of the sexual assaults against himself and his two siblings.
DSS officials again Thursday declined to release details of their investigation into the family and the custodial status of the children, citing confidentiality laws.
Byers is charged with three counts of of engaging children under age 18 for sexual performance, three counts of criminal solicitation of a minor, and one count of disseminating obscene materials to minors under age 12. All are felonies. In court Wednesday, Byers claimed that it is his word against the children’s. He was denied bond and remains jailed on charges that carry up to 95 years in prison upon conviction.
The 23-year-old Gastonia man offered to take a lie detector test and asked for an immediate trial, but court dates are months off.
Byers, who has previously given authorities a Clover address as his home, is a court absconder from drug and traffic convictions in April, records show, and also was on probation in North Carolina for gun and weapons convictions.