|Red marks are seen on an 8-year-old who was hit with a belt by his father.|
LORAIN — There’s little Children Services can do now that Lorain County Common Pleas Court Judge James Burge has acquitted a Lorain man accused of striking his 8-year-old son with a belt.
Burge cleared 28-year-old James P. Smith last week of domestic violence and child endangering charges, saying the prosecution failed to prove that a crime had been committed. Long, red marks and broken skin on the boy’s back are clearly seen in pictures taken a day after the beating occurred.
Burge said the marks looked worse than they actually were and that he supports corporal punishment. Smith struck his son because he had been getting into trouble at school for inappropriately touching female students and teachers and was not stopping despite his father trying several means of punishing him, Burge said.
Lorain police arrested Smith in April after a teacher saw the marks on the boy’s back. Children Services was contacted, and the agency took Smith’s three children away but has since returned them.
Children Services spokeswoman Patti-Jo Burtnett said she could not comment on Burge’s decision, but she did say her agency has to abide by the ruling just like everyone else.
“That’s part of the process; the judge makes the determination,” she said. “When someone gives us a tip about a child and we feel those injuries are significant enough, we pass that on to the appropriate law enforcement agency, and they do what they’re supposed to do.”
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said charges were brought against Smith because police and Children Services were concerned about the injuries.
Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or firstname.lastname@example.org.