WHEN HIS SON was caught allegedly shoplifting at the Burlington Coat Factory in Upper Darby on Friday, Marvin Francis didn't just sweep it under the rug.

Instead, police say, he grabbed a broom from a sales display as he walked to the security office. Once there, he beat his son repeatedly with the broom before dragging him to the sidewalk and knocking him unconscious.

Now it's Francis who's being punished, as he sits in the Delaware County Prison on $100,000 bail, charged with aggravated assault and related offenses.

"He beat him like a piece of meat," said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood. "It's one thing to discipline a kid, it's a another thing to feloniously assault a child and then not even get him medical help."

It was all caught on store surveillance cameras. Chitwood viewed the video but wasn't ready to release it yesterday.

"This is a nasty, nasty, nasty case," he said.

The incident started about 7 p.m. Friday, when loss-prevention officers at the store, on 69th Street near Chestnut, caught two 16-year-old boys stealing, Chitwood said. He didn't know what the boys - who are cousins - were accused of stealing, and he didn't release their names because they are juveniles.

The loss-prevention officers didn't call police about the thefts, which is not unusual, but they did call the teens' parents, Chitwood said.

Francis, 39, of Woodcrest Avenue near 76th Street, was the first to arrive.

"As he's walking in, he picks up a broom in the store from a sales display and walks into the security office and starts beating his son with the broom," Chitwood said. "Then he throws the broom down and punches, kicks and knocks the kid to the ground."

All this happened while the boy's cousin sat nearby. "He's sitting right there watching, scared to death," Chitwood said.

Security officers tried to stop the beating, according to police, but then they let Francis sign for his child and walk out of the store with him.

"The next thing you know, he's outside of the store and he starts punching him and beating him again," Chitwood said. "This time he knocks him down, stomps him in the head and knocks him unconscious."

After attempts to revive his son failed, Francis picked him up, threw him over his left shoulder, walked across 69th Street and tossed him into the back of his black Lexus, according to police.

Chitwood said officers were called to the scene by civilians on 69th Street who saw the alleged beating, and not by store security.

"As far as the retail theft, I can understand that they didn't call us, but when the father started beating the kid the way he did, that's when [store security] should have called police," he said.

By the time officers arrived, father and son were gone. Responding officers were able to get the child's address and went to West Philadelphia to check on his well-being, Chitwood said.

The boy lives with his mother and was there when police arrived. He was conscious and alert, but police tried to convince his mother to take him to a hospital to get him checked out. Chitwood said she was "reluctant" to do so. He didn't know yesterday if the boy had been seen by a doctor.

Although they don't live together, Francis allegedly showed up at the mother's house while police were there and was promptly arrested, Chitwood said.

Messages left for the teen and his mother were not immediately returned.

A store manager directed questions to the corporate office, which did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.

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