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Domestic CP - September 2008

Corpun file 20592


The Morning Call, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 10 September 2008

Granddad acquitted in paddling

Bethlehem Twp. man said teen needed discipline to turn his life around.

By Riley Yates
Of The Morning Call

A Bethlehem Township man accused of child endangerment for hitting his 13-year-old grandson with wooden paddles was acquitted Tuesday by a Northampton County jury.

Valentino L. Thomas, 61, was accused of felony child endangerment, simple assault and harassment in connection with the Nov. 12. 2007, punishment of his grandson, then an eighth-grader at East Hills Middle School.

"I told him I was going to make a gentleman and a scholar out of him if it killed me," said Thomas, who noted the boy is now a high school freshman who earns A's.

Pennsylvania law does not ban corporal punishment altogether, prohibiting it only if it risks death, serious bodily injury, disfigurement, or severe pain, mental anguish or degradation.

Prosecutors argued Thomas stepped over the line when he paddled his grandson after the teen broke into a locked cabinet and later that day got in trouble in school.

In a 911 call, the boy asked for police to come because, "My granddaddy, he's about to beat me down." Bethlehem Township police officers who responded testified that Thomas was angry and out of control.

The boy had a scratch on his cheek, welts on his forearm and red buttocks from being spanked by the two wooden paddles, each a half-inch thick.

Copyright 2008, The Morning Call

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