Father pleads guilty to assault on teen Circuit judge orders counseling


A Carroll County man who teaches high school in Baltimore County pleaded guilty yesterday to assault and battery of his teen-age daughter after she missed a family counseling session.

Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold accepted the plea from the defendant.

The judge gave the defendant probation before judgment and suspended 12 months of supervised probation on the condition that the man continue to receive counseling.

As part of the plea bargain, a state prosecutor also dropped a child abuse charge against the father.

The defendant was convicted of grabbing his daughter by her hair and throwing her against a wall in their home when she returned after missing a family therapy session Oct. 6.

Doctors at Carroll County General Hospital, where the girl was taken for treatment after the attack, reported to police that she had suffered a bruise near her eye and a hematoma on the back of her head. She also complained of a headache, court records showed.

The defendant said he willingly entered the guilty plea. But he did not admit that he assaulted his daughter.

"What I do here today I do on behalf of my daughter and my family," the man said.

When defense attorney Roger N. Powell explained each of the rights the defendant was waiving, and when the judge asked him whether he understood his guilty plea, the man stood erect and said, "On behalf of my daughter and my family, I understand."

Mr. Powell argued to the judge that the assault actually had been simply a form of discipline.

"You are injected into a family situation and have to decide whether the line between discipline and assault and battery was crossed," Mr. Powell told the judge -- after the judge accepted the defendant's plea.

"I don't know how far a parent could go, but these facts suggest that a father subdued a young adult for failure to keep an important appointment," Mr. Powell said. "I suggest that you don't have a battery, you simply have discipline."

Said prosecutor Eileen McInerny, "We agreed to the facts of this case as they were read. Certainly these actions went beyond the proper physical discipline by a parent to a child."

Judge Arnold agreed.

"The defendant, by the plea of guilty, admits to the charge of common law battery," he said.

The defendant left the courtroom flanked by his children and his wife, who had cried throughout the hearing.

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