The parents of an 8-year-old boy accused of trying to carjack Virginia Rep. James P. Moran last week have filed an official complaint against the congressman, saying he attacked their son after the boy told him he liked his car.
Mr. Moran, having heard of the parents’ reaction, is now considering pressing charges against the boy. He initially had no plans to do so.
“I had hoped that this boy would learn that this is not acceptable behavior,” Mr. Moran said. “But if the parents are not going to teach him that this is not acceptable behavior, then maybe the courts will.”
The disagreement stems from an incident Friday at Cora Kelly Recreational Center in Alexandria, Va. Alonzo Griffen and Melanie Gaitwood say Mr. Moran took hold of their second-grader son, Michael Green, by the neck and began cursing at the boy before dragging him into the center.
“He grabbed my little boy, and that’s not right,” Mr. Griffen said in a telephone interview yesterday. “If he wants to file charges, let him. Let’s take it to court. That way the truth will come out.”
Mr. Moran, 8th District Democrat, told police Friday he restrained the boy in the recreation center parking lot and brought him into the building only after the boy demanded his car keys and threatened to shoot him if he refused.
Mr. Moran said the boy pointed to his pants pocket and implied he had a gun. Michael had a toy baby bottle full of candy in his pocket, but no gun, his mother said yesterday.
Michael, who attends Cora Kelly Magnet School, told The Washington Times he didn’t do anything wrong and that he he was scared when Mr. Moran grabbed him.
“He choked me and then cussed at me,” the 4-foot-7, 85-pound boy said yesterday. “I thought he was going to kidnap me or kill me… . All I told him was that I liked his car.”
His parents on Monday filed a complaint with a magistrate against Mr. Moran. The complaint will now be investigated to determine whether charges are warranted, but as of yesterday, the magistrate’s office had no findings.
Mr. Moran, an ex-boxer with a notoriously quick temper, said the boy never told him he liked his car.
“This is all lies,” Mr. Moran said last night. “I’m most concerned that this boy is not learning that is not acceptable behavior.”
Mr. Moran said the boy repeatedly told him: ” ‘Give me your keys,’ ” ” ‘I have a gun,’ ” ” ‘I know how to use it,’ ” and ” Don’t make me shoot you,’ ” before Mr. Moran restrained the boy and carried him into the center.
“I didn’t take him seriously at first,” Mr. Moran said. “I couldn’t believe a young boy would be talking and acting like that.”
Before the parents made their accusations, Mr. Moran had said that he felt sorry for the boy after the incident and wanted to hug him and get him away from his home environment.
Michael’s parents never married, and he uses his mother’s maiden name. Mrs. Gaitwood married another man after Michael was born, but he said he hasn’t seen his stepfather since he was 5 years old.
“I just wanted to hug him,” Mr. Moran said Monday night. “I wish I could adopt a child like him.”
Several witnesses who were at the recreation center that day said they saw “a beet red” Mr. Moran walk into the center, yelling and cursing at the boy.
“I saw Congressman Moran carrying a black male in a choke hold,” said Kelly Cheeks, a parent who was at the center when Mr. Moran walked in.
Mrs. Gaitwood said Michael is a straight-A student and on the honor roll at his school.
When asked if he threatened to shoot Mr. Moran or demanded his car keys, Michael shook his head “no” and answered, “I told him I liked his car.”
Mr. Moran, who owns a 1999 black Toyota Avalon, conceded he was upset when he came into the center carrying Michael under his arm, but denies he attacked the child and cursed at him.
“I’m sure I was beet red,” he said. “But I don’t remember using any profanity.”
Mr. Moran, 54, is in his fifth term, and his district covers Alexandria, Arlington and the southeastern parts of Fairfax County. He has, in the past, lost his temper in some well-publicized outbursts. Among them:
Last June, his wife, Mary, called police to their home because he pushed her. Mr. Moran told police he pushed her in self-defense when she came toward him, but Mrs. Moran disputed that version of events. There was no evidence of assault, and charges weren’t filed. The day after the incident, Mrs. Moran filed for divorce. Mr. Moran filed for divorce about three weeks later.
In 1998, during the revelations about the president’s infidelities, he reportedly told the first lady that if he were her brother, he would have punched President Clinton in the nose.
In 1995, he had to apologize after pushing Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, California Republican, out of the House floor into a cloakroom. More than a dozen Capitol Police officers were called to restore order.
In 1994, Arlington police were summoned after the congressman, who was campaigning for re-election, reportedly grabbed a man by the front of his shirt for distributing anti-Moran leaflets deemed in poor taste.