Mary Gowans is faced with a misdemeanor child abuse charge after the Whiteville, NC, resident reportedly told her son to “beat the gay away” from his younger brother. Now, prosecutors are tasked with figuring out whether the woman should also be charged with a hate crime.

Beat the Gay Away: Mom Might Be Charged With a Hate Crime For Allegedly Telling Younger Son to Beat His Brother

Mary Gowans, the mother accused of telling her younger son to beat his brother, because he is gay (Photo Credit: Columbus Co. Sheriff’s Office)

On Aug. 24, police were called to Gowans’ home to find a number of people yelling at one another, WECT-TV reports.

A 15-year-old at the house allegedly told authorities that his mother told his 12-year-old brother to beat him repeatedly; the older child, according to a police report, was not permitted to defend himself during the attack.

The teenager, who had an abrasion on his back when authorities arrived, had allegedly been told by Gowans to strip down to his underwear, with the 12-year-old purportedly whipping his body with a belt.

WITN-TV claims that the beating may have been motivated by the mother’s effort to “pray the gay away,” a reference that makes it seem as though faith played a role in the incident.

In an interview following the purported scuffle, the mother did say that she would not be happy if her son ended up being a homosexual, as she believes that he is young and doesn’t yet know right from wrong.

The mother’s account of events is vastly different, though. According to WECT-TV, she claims that her son has been visiting an older man and that she’s concerned.

In an effort to stop the teenager from returning to see this man — an individual she believes may be molesting her son — she claims she did, indeed, hit the boy.

Here’s more about the intriguing case:

Gowans claims the teen was intoxicated when he called the police with the story about his mother telling the younger brother to beat him. She also purports to have told police about the molestation claim, but that nothing has been done to confront the issue.

“I couldn’t harm my child,” she said in an interview following the incident:

Gowans is expected in court on Oct. 9.

(H/T: WECT-TV)