- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 18, 2017

ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) - As authorities in southern Utah collect an outpouring of public support for a 12-year-old boy found dangerously malnourished in a filthy bathroom, an attorney for his mother said she didn’t mean for the boy to be hurt but the situation slipped out of her control.

Defense attorney Edward Flint said Tuesday the child has special needs and his mother didn’t have the skills or support to properly care for him, the Deseret News reported.

She was charged with felony child abuse after the 30-pound boy was found locked in a feces-strewn bathroom with one blanket and a few empty cans of beans, police have said. The Associated Press is not naming her to avoid identifying the boy, who was hospitalized.

Meanwhile, police say donations and well-wishes have poured in for the boy. The Washington County Children’s Justice Center has gotten clothing, toys and monetary donations, the Spectrum newspaper in St. George reported.

So many emails have come in that police have set up a separate address to accept them, police said.

The children’s justice center is also asking those concerned about the case for letters and drawings so the boy knows how many people are thinking about him.

The boy has a medical condition that makes it difficult for his mother to find things for him to eat, Flint said.

“There are a lot of questions we have as well, but I think it’s safe to say that she wasn’t trying to hurt this child out of any kind of malice or hatred … but she was really lost with a very difficult special needs child and didn’t know what to do,” Flint said.

Prosecutor Brock Belnap says the investigation is ongoing, though he declined additional comment.

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