ST. GEORGE — A Nevada man was arrested by Hurricane Police Thursday for alleged abuse of his 22-year-old autistic son, and on Friday the Washington County Attorney’s office initiated prosecution bringing the charge before the Fifth District Court in St. George.
Hurricane Police arrested Travis A. Covington, 42, of Mesquite, Nev., on Thursday, charging him with aggravated intentional adult abuse, a second-degree felony.
Covington’s 22-year-old son is autistic and unable to care for himself, relying upon his father and other trusted adults to do so, the probable cause statement filed in connection with the arrest stated.
According to the statement, the son had been under his father’s care prior to being dropped off with family members on Feb. 2. Two days later, the family members took the 22-year-old to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George where he was measured at just over 5 feet tall and weighed just over 52 pounds.
It was determined through medical tests that the son was malnourished, the statement said, and “medical staff was unable to identify any other reason that would cause the weight loss.”
The son is receiving ongoing treatment for severe and rapid weight loss.
The son had previously been admitted to a hospital in Arizona on Jan. 7, where he was weighed in at 80 pounds, the police statement said, and discharging documents from that hospital stated that he needed to increase his intake of food and liquids.
Covington’s son lost a significant amount of weight from Jan. 7 to Feb. 2, when he was returned to family members, the police allege in the statement.
“Because of his autism, he is a vulnerable adult, that puts him in that situation,” Hurricane Police Sgt. Brandon Buell said. “Medical tests showed that the man was severely malnourished which was the reason for a felony charge,” he said.
Hurricane police are working with Utah State Adult Protective Services and the investigation is ongoing, Buell said.
Police said they contacted Covington at Dixie Regional Medical Center on Feb. 6 and he refused to speak further with investigators. He was booked into Washington County’s Purgatory Correctional Facility with bail listed at $10,000.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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