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Mother accused of having son 'beat the gay away' could face hate crime charges

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Mary Gowans (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office) Mary Gowans (Source: Columbus Co. Sheriff's Office)
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WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) - Prosecutors with the Columbus County District Attorney's Office will evaluate if a mother accused of telling her son to "beat the gay away" from his brother should be charged with a hate crime.

Mary Gowans is currently charged with misdemeanor child abuse.  

Police were called to an incident on West Walter Street Saturday, and officers say when they arrived, there were several people yelling and screaming, according to a Whiteville police report.

According to the report, a 15-year-old said his mother told his 12-year-old brother to repeatedly hit him, and he was not allowed to fight back.

The report went on to say Gowans made the teen strip down to his underwear and proceeded to beat him with a belt across his body.

Police say there was a large abrasion on the 15-year-old's back.

Gowans, however, says the allegations aren't true. She said her son was intoxicated when he reported the incident to police. Although she doesn't agree with the gay lifestyle, Gowans says she would never harm her children.

According to Gowans, her 15-year-old son has been visiting a gay man, whom she heard had molested him.

Gowans said she called the police about the matter, but nothing has been done. She admitted to beating her son in an effort to stop him from visiting the man, and claims she was just trying to protect her son.

According to Gowans, the 15-year old had hit his younger brother, so she had the 12-year-old hit him back.

Some people in Columbus County believe the case will shed light on the lack of support groups for young people who could be gay in rural communities. 

Gowans is expected in court October 9. 

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