Father gets probation in abuse case

February 17, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

A 39-year-old Carroll County man received probation before judgment yesterday when he agreed to the state's version of the facts in a child abuse case involving his son.

Carroll Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. gave the defendant five years of probation, with one year supervised, on a charge of battery.

The defendant, whose name is being withheld to protect the privacy of the victim, pleaded guilty to that charge but will have a clean criminal record because of the judge's probation-before-judgment ruling.

In return for the man's plea, the prosecution dropped other charges against him.

Prosecutor Eileen McInerny said in the statement of facts that the man's son was vacuuming the family pool last summer when the hose became unattached. The father hit the boy over the head, saying, "You kids can't do anything," and beat the child with a leather belt.

The boy ran from the yard to the nearby Union Mills Homestead, where his father tackled him, forced him into the family pickup truck and drove him home.

An anonymous call to 911 brought state police to the home, where they found the father leaning over the child in the driveway and the child screaming for someone to help him because his arm was broken.

A subsequent medical examination found some abrasions on the child's neck, but no broken bones, said Bruce Austensen, the father's defense attorney.

The abrasions occurred when the child tried to jump out of the moving pickup truck, something he has attempted to do in the past, Mr. Austensen said.

"This occurrence was the result of a family dispute that was blown out of proportion at the end of it," Mr. Austensen said. "This was a very unfortunate circumstance that arose that could happen in any family. It just got out of hand."

The child and his mother currently are in counseling, as suggested by the Department of Social Services, Mr. Austensen said, and the father is willing to join them in counseling.

"The boy has indicated to me that he had some problems, but that he is working them out with the father," Mr. Austensen said.

The father maintained his innocence throughout yesterday's hearing.

"In the statement the boy filled out, he lied to the police," the father said. "It seems that we can't go back and reassess that statement. But I'm not guilty, and I'm trying to do the right thing."

Judge Burns, in issuing his ruling and sentence, told the defendant, "A repeat performance of this . . . I will consider jail time."

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