Saturday, January 25, 2014

One of the Worst Cases of Parental Abuse

 Research on the Rothenberg Case Cited Sources

There were more than one thousand articles written about this case. Here are a few excerpt headlines as they appeared in order. The articles can be purchased at

(This particular article is so very sad. The boy begged to see his father,  which is a natural request from an injured child. He had no idea that his dad had done this to him.)

 Philadelphia Inquirer April 9, 1983
     David Rothenberg, severely burned in a motel fire, has spoken for the first time since the blaze and has asked for a soda, a Popsicle - and a visit from his father, who is jailed on charges of having set the fire.The 6-year-old Brooklyn boy still does not know how he got into the hospital. He does not know that he was burned over 90 percent of his body when the motel room he shared with his father burst into flames.Nor does he know that his father, Charles Rothenberg, is in jail in...

Daily Los Angeles News of Los Angeles Jan 25, 1990
David Rothenberg, disfigured when his father set him on fire seven years ago, said Wednesday that he is confident strict parole provisions will keep Charles Rothenberg away from him.''I would like them to keep him in jail for the rest of his life. But that's not the law," the 13-year-old boy said at a news conference hours after his father's release from prison."If he wants forgiveness, why did he do this..

The Orange County Register October 23, 1988

But `David' tells only part of the story of this burn victim    \The David Rothenberg who will be seen by America in the Tuesday-night ABC TV movie "David" is the 1983 edition, the 6-year-old boy who was charred to the brink of death in a Buena Park motel room fire set deliberately by the father he once idolized.As played by actor Matthew Lawrence, he's a spunky and courageous boy who overcomes astronomical odds. He was supposed to die because that's what generally happens to human beings who.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Photos of David Rothenberg, Mom, Marie Rothenberg (some photos courtesy of

Dave Rothenberg, David Rothenberg Burn Victim, Charles Rothenberg(photos courtesy of (

March 3-10, 1983: Charles had spent most of his life in and out of prison. At the time of the incident, he was divorced from David's mother. He asked to take his son on a trip. After several days he called and asked Marie if he could spend more time with David. Angrily, Marie told him that if they did not get back there he would never see David again. Later that day, they checked into the Buena Park motel, and as David slept (after giving him sleeping pills), he kissed him, poured kerosene all around the bed, lit a fire, and was seen speeding away in a white car. He later returned to watch as the flames engulfed the motel room. Motel guests dragged the boy to safety. A national alert was issued for Charles Rothenberg. Before his arrest Charles called the police to get an update on his son, but he refused to turn himself in. Charles, later confessed that he did it because he thought that his ex wife would never let him see his son again. The incident also took place one day after Charles was to turn himself in for the vandalism and burglary of a restaurant. He was finally arrested on March 10, 1988 outside of a YMCA.

 March 24, 1983: David opens his eyes for the first time

April 8, 1983: Little David starts to speak again. He also starts to ask for his father. Up until that point, David had not been informed that it was his father who set him on fire. He held out his arms and said: "Mommy, I hurt myself."About 2 months later, his mother finally tells him. David was absolutely heart broken. He did not understand why his father would do that to him. His mother reassured him that his father did love him, but that he was very ill. David stated that he never wanted to see him again.

June 8th, 1983: David arrives in Boston sporting a baseball cap given to him by Reggie Jackson

June 10, 1983: David arrives at Boston's Shriner Burn Institute

June 19, 1983: David receives a birthday card from President Ronald Reagan

July 30, 1983: Charles David Rothenberg is sentenced to 13 years for setting his son on fire in a Buena Vista motel room.  As the verdict was given the Judge James R Franks said: that’s not enough time for what you did because of a quirk in the law, 13 years is the maximum I can give you. But that is far too low, in my opinion, for what you did." Rothenberg, 43, cried as he asked for his son’s forgiveness. In a separate interview, Charles said that he "should have got more" than the 13 years in prison, and that he was willing to "go to the highest level in order to see" his son again. He also stated that he loved his son very much, and that he is not a sick person. Really Charles? If that is not sick tell us what is....David’s mother, Marie, had traveled from Boston to be in court that day.

October 1988: The movie "David" starring Bernadette Peters debuts

January 24, 1990: Charles Rothenberg is paroled after 6 1/2 years. He was quietly released and moved  to a secret location a little past midnight in order to avoid the media. In October 1990, Charles violated parole and was sent back to prison for 8 months.

October 19, 1990|

June 2001: Charles is arrested for possession of 44 rounds of ammunition and handgun possession.

April 2005: He is sentenced to 8 months for weapons possession.

2007: He is re sentenced under the three strikes you're out to 25 years in prison for weapons charges (at age66)

Extra Tidbits
His mother had a gut feeling that something was not right.
Charles was acting especially weird the day he picked up his son.
David now goes by the name Dave Dave and lives in Provo, Utah
He appeared on Larry King Live in 2009 speaking on the death of Michael Jackson, he said that Michael Jackson was like a father to him
At age 34 he is an aspiring singer
It is rumored that he and his mother are no longer on good terms