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Domestic CP - January 2008

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The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, Pennsylvania, 9 January 2008

Paddling prompts charges

By Sandra K. Reabuck

Click to enlarge

A Johnstown man accused of using a modified wooden paddle designed to inflict more pain in disciplining three young boys has been charged by city police with child endangerment and simple assault.

City juvenile Officer Julie Wagner said the paddle used by Christopher Ellis had six holes drilled into it so air would not cushion it "when used for spanking, (thereby) creating more force."

The boys -- ages 5, 7 and 8 -- were struck numerous times, leaving their buttocks cut and bleeding, police said.

The imprint of the paddle and one its holes was visible a day later on one of the boys when he was treated at Memorial Medical Center's emergency room, Wagner said.

The alleged abuse came to light when the youngest boy had difficulty sitting at school the day after the paddling. He reportedly told his teacher that "he could not sit, that it hurt too bad."

The charges were filed this week by Wagner before District Judge Leonard Grecek of the Roxbury section of Johnstown.

Ellis, 31, of the 100 block of Sell Street, is being notified by mail to appear Jan. 31 for a preliminary hearing before Grecek. Grecek's office mailed the summons Wednesday.

The boys, who had been placed at the Ellis home by an out-of-state agency for a pending adoption, have been removed from the residence since the Dec. 17 incident, District Attorney Patrick Kiniry said Wednesday.

Although parents have the right to discipline their children, the discipline cannot cross into abuse, he said.

In these types of abuse, prosecutors would present medical testimony about the physical harm to show that the discipline was excessive under the circumstances, Kiniry said.

"The kind of cases we get involve severe lacerations, bleeding, bruising and inflicting of severe pain. That kind of discipline crosses the line, and that kind of discipline is criminal," Kiniry said.

Wagner said one of the children told police that Ellis had "laughed about how hard he could hit with (the paddle) 'cause the holes wouldn't let any air in."

According to an affidavit, Ellis used the paddle after learning that the boys had behaved badly on their school bus.

He took the three into his bedroom and told them they would be spanked, the officer said. The youngest boy was the first to be disciplined and was told to pull down his pants, although his underwear was left on.

The boy told police he had been "struck six times and that he screamed. It was dripping down with blood, and my butt burns. It hurt to sit down."

The 7-year-old then was paddled, and he told police he was unsure how many times he was struck. He, too, told police that his buttocks were bleeding and burning.

The oldest boy told police that he was paddled after he pulled down his pants and bent over the bed.

"It hurt so bad that I just stopped counting. My butt was cut, and there was bleeding. I couldn't lay on it. It felt worse than it ever did," the boy told police.

Wagner said the boys told her the incident was not the first time that Ellis had used the paddle.

She said none received treatment for their injuries on the day they were paddled.

After the school nurse observed the youngest boy's injuries, the other boys also were checked. All three then were taken to the emergency room, Wagner said.

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