Laramie Man Charged With Child Abuse
A man accused of going beyond what might be considered reasonable corporal punishment when he allegedly spanked a child with a wooden spoon entered a not guilty plea Thursday in Albany County District Court.
Joshua Campbell, 33, pleaded not guilty to one felony count of child abuse. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine at sentencing. Campbell is scheduled to stand trial Nov. 8-10.
Campbell was arrested following an investigation by Albany County Sheriff's deputies that began May 20 when the Albany County Department of Family Services asked the Sheriff's office to conduct a welfare check on an 8-year-old child who reportedly had bruising on his back from a possible spanking.
Court documents say deputies attempted two welfare checks at the child's home that day, but nobody answered the door.
Two deputies returned to the home May 21 and spoke with Campbell who said he spanked the child on May 16 at about 8:30 p.m. Campbell said he "spanked him pretty good with a wooden spoon" after the child reportedly went into his sister's room, inappropriately touched his sister and hit her with her cowboy boots.
The affidavit says Campbell told deputies he hit the child on his bottom and the handle of the wooden spoon may have hit the child's body.
According to court documents, Campbell told deputies he spanked the child three times for each offense for a total of nine spankings. Campbell reportedly said he was angry and hit the boy fairly hard. He also said he saw marks and light bruising on the child.
Deputies later interviewed the child and his mother at the residence of the child's grandmother.
The affidavit says the child told deputies Campbell spanked him. The boy then lifted his shirt to reveal three visible bruises or marks on his back, located on the child's lower right back, upper middle back and lower right back just above the beltline. Deputies estimated the size of the marks at roughly half an inch to three quarters of an inch in length.
The child reportedly told deputies that he "made a bad choice" by hitting his sister, and Campbell held him down over the stairs while spanking him. The child's mother said she was surprised by the incident and said she found one red mark or bruise on the child's bottom.
The mother also reportedly said she was not at home when the incident occurred but was aware of it, though she said she didn't know the full extent of the injuries until that day.
According to the affidavit, Campbell told deputies in an interview that he aimed for the child's bottom but the child was moving around, so he may have missed. Campbell allegedly said he hit the child too hard.
The affidavit goes on to say that Campbell told deputies he has a rule of three swats for each incident and spanks the child in question one to three times each month. Deputies noted the wooden spoon Campbell allegedly used to spank the child May 16 is 12-14 inches long with a round wooden handle.
Campbell reportedly told deputies he was upset with the child for being inappropriate with his sister and at school.
A deputy says in the affidavit that the child's injuries are "inconsistent with reasonable corporal punishment."
"The issue will be whether the behavior is reasonable corporal punishment or something like that," defense attorney Vaughn Neubauer said in court Thursday..
Neubauer asked Judge Jeffrey Donnell to modify the conditions of Campbell's $10,000 signature bond, which requires that Campbell have no contact with victims and witnesses, which include members of Campbell's family.
Neubauer said Campbell has "religiously" abided by those conditions and staying with a friend, but Campbell is needed to help tend to the needs of his family. Neubauer argued there would be little potential for Campbell to contaminate witness testimony, given the central issue of the case.
Prosecutor Rob Sanford objected to the motion, primarily due to "the concern of the purity of testimony at trial."
Donnell said he doesn't see how he could allow both the requested modification of Campbell's bond and the prosecution to proceed. Campbell's bond was previously modified to allow him to travel to Cheyenne for business purposes.
"The fact here is Mr. Campbell is charged with a serious felony," Donnell said before denying the defense motion.