BEVERLY — Charles Kirby says he called Beverly police in the early morning hours of Dec. 28 because he was concerned for the well-being of his college-age son.
Kirby, 62, who has been living at the Extended Stay America hotel in Peabody, told an officer that his estranged wife's new boyfriend was being violent toward his son, including pushing and shoving.
When police got to the Beverly apartment, however, the son denied any abuse had taken place.
Now Kirby is facing a charge of violating a restraining order and could face additional charges, including filing a false police report, a prosecutor said Tuesday during Kirby's arraignment in Salem District Court.
But Kirby's lawyer, Mark Barry, says he doesn't think that what Kirby did, by calling police with what he says was a genuine concern for his son's safety, is a crime.
"He tells me he was concerned for his son," said Barry, who suggested that calling police about his son, who does not have a restraining order against his father, does not amount to "third party contact" in violation of the order Kirby's wife obtained.
Restraining orders typically restrict contact between two parties, but also usually prohibit the subject of the order from attempting to contact someone indirectly, such as by sending a message through a third person or posting something on social media.
Prosecutor Michael Varone said police believe Kirby was using them to violate the order his wife had obtained. The couple is in the process of divorcing.
A Beverly patrolman's report indicates that the officer expressly asked Kirby how he had heard of the alleged violence against his son, and Kirby told them that his son had called.
When police asked the son if he had spoken to his father, the son denied that, saying that the two had only sent several "joking" text messages to each other over the holidays. The son went on to say his father was upset that his mother had started dating someone.
Police obtained a warrant for Kirby.
Three weeks later, on Monday morning, he was arrested at the Jubilee Drive hotel where he's been living.
Varone told Judge Randy Chapman that Kirby has a history of prior restraining orders and asked the judge to set bail at $500.
Barry, meanwhile, said that both prior alleged restraining order violations were dismissed. He asked Chapman to release Kirby without requiring him to post bail, saying Kirby has limited access to funds due to the divorce.
Chapman set bail at $750 and ordered Kirby to follow the restraining order.
A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 24.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.