Son says father forced him to sell drugs

Sunday, November 3, 2002

PHILADELPHIA -- A man was held for trial after his 11-year-old son testified that his father had forced him to sell drugs and carry a gun.

"I was sick and tired of being used and I wanted to tell somebody," said the boy, who walked into a police station Sept. 24 and gave his account to police.

Thirty-seven-year-old Edward Sheed -- who police said was found by investigators sitting on a crate in a North Philadelphia lot selling drugs -- was held Thursday on charges including endangering the welfare of a child and simple assault.

Judge Joseph C. Bruno also ordered the child's mother, Rhonda Overton, 34, to stand trial on a misdemeanor drug charge. Bruno dropped several other charges against her, including child endangerment.

The boy testified he started selling drugs and carrying a gun for his father last summer. He said if he made a mistake his father hit him with a belt, and that he also threatened to throw him into the Schuylkill River if he got in trouble.

As the boy spoke, his father, brought to court in handcuffs, stood nearby, but looked straight ahead or down. His mother was teary-eyed for most of the preliminary hearing in Family Court.

The boy has been placed in a secure foster-care facility with mental-health treatment services, said Liza Rodriguez, spokeswoman for the city's Department of Human Services. She said the department would try to place him with a family member once the criminal case is resolved.

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