January 20, 1996 in Nation/World

Couple Investigated On Civil Rights Charges

Compiled From Wire Services

The FBI opened a civil rights investigation Friday in the case of a 9-year-old black boy who said he was tied to a tree, punched, kicked and almost strangled by a white playmate and the playmate’s parents.

Benjamin Mims, 62, and his 43-year-old wife, Betty, were arrested on state charges of second-degree lynching, or mob violence, which does not require a racial motivation. The offense carries up to 20 years in prison.

They were jailed for a night before posting $5,000 bail each on Wednesday.

Sheriff Hoyt Collins said he does not think the alleged incident Jan. 5 was a hate crime.

The Mimses agreed to take a lie detector test but later refused without explanation, Collins said. “We’ve got a 9-year-old child’s statement against an entire family,” he said.

Emergency room doctors said the boy’s injuries were consistent with his account.

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