An 11-year-old girl suffered 21 injuries by the time her father finished disciplining her with a belt one late April evening in their Lawrence home, according to testimony in court on Tuesday.
Douglas County District Judge Sally Pokorny ordered the 32-year-old man, arrested last month and charged with abuse of a child, to stand trial in October. Free on a $25,000 bond, the man sat slouched forward, rarely making eye contact with witnesses during Tuesday’s preliminary hearing.
Lawrence police officer David Garcia testified that when he and a social worker met the girl at her elementary school two days after the alleged April 28 offense, she told them her father hit her repeatedly with a belt after he discovered her using an iPod she was not permitted to use.
At first, Garcia said, the girl told them she stopped counting at seven strikes with the belt but added that she later counted four more after she told her father she couldn’t breathe. During the incident, Garcia said, the girl also fell to the floor and struck her head on the wall. She also bore marks of previous abuse, he said.
Garcia said the man told law enforcement in a subsequent interview that he disciplined his daughter because she wasn’t allowed to use her iPod and that he also discovered inappropriate conversations with older males on the iPod. When told that his daughter had 21 injuries as a result of the discipline, Garcia said, the man replied that he didn’t think he went too far. “You’d have to know her,” Garcia recalled the man saying.
Amanda Sprague-Brunk, a social worker, testified that in a tearful interview, the girl’s 10-year-old brother said he overheard the beating and heard his father say, “I could do this all night.” Sprague-Brunk said the boy told her his sister asked for help but their father’s girlfriend did not intervene or call police. The girl also has a 2-year-old sister and the man’s girlfriend is pregnant with another child, but Sprague-Brunk testified that the only excessive discipline reported seemed focused on the 11-year-old, who is now in protective custody.
On Tuesday, Pokorny also granted a prosecutor’s request to add an additional charge of aggravated battery, to which the man’s attorney, Napoleon Crews, objected on the grounds that it was duplicative. Pokorny told Crews he could file a motion to dismiss the additional charge before trial, which is scheduled for Oct. 15.