A man accused of mistreating his father will pay a fine, but will not go to prison after a judge sympathized with his challenging situation.

56-year-old Michael Underhill of Winterport was charged with intentionally endangering the welfare of a dependent person after a sheriff's deputy found the man's 84-year-old father, sitting on a couch, with a rope securing him in place. There was a stoked fire, his legs were propped up on an empty cooler, and his feet rested on a pillow. His legs were bare and the deputy said he could see several healing abrasions. Paramedics were called to check on the man, who was taken to the hospital after telling them he hadn't eaten for a week. They found a rope, with a blanket underneath and a yellow ratchet strap that had been used to tie the man to the sofa.

Underhill arrived shortly after his father had left in the ambulance and told investigators that his father suffered from severe dementia, and could often be combative.  The rope had been used to secure his father's legs in place while he ran to the grocery store, because a doctor had told him they needed to be elevated for his circulation. In addition, he told police he'd fed his father some canned oysters that morning, which seemed to be the only thing the elderly man would eat.

WGME-TV reports the more serious charge was dismissed and Underhill pleaded guilty to recklessly endangering the welfare of a dependent person. A judge this week ordered him to pay a $2,000 fine, saying he understood that Underhill was in a difficult position with limited resources, and was doing the best he could.


More From WQCB Brewer Maine