Washington Township Fire employee facing child abuse charges after disciplining children

MORGAN COUNTY, Ind. – A Washington Township Fire Department employee faces charges of child abuse after investigators said the employee’s children were punished with a belt while inside the station.

For the safety of the children, we are not using that employee’s name. On Aug. 3, Martinsville police said the employee began abusing the children by punishing them with a belt multiple times.

An affidavit from the Morgan County Prosecutor's Office said the kids came to the station after a confrontation with their stepmother. While the employee disciplined one child inside, the reports said another child dialed 911. The child lied to dispatchers, and told them they had been stolen from the bank. The fake call led to a lashing for that child as well.

“We don’t advocate hitting children at all," said Sandy Runkle-DeLorm with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. “You know what crosses a line, anytime you leave a mark.”

The report said the children were struck on their backside and upper legs, which left a series of bruises.

“We like to ask that if hitting a child really worked, then why do you have to keep doing it?” asked Runkle-DeLorm.

She said positive re-enforcement should start a young age in lieu of physical punishment.

"That should not even be an option," Runkle-DeLorm said. "It can lead to a lack of trust between the caregiver and the child."

Investigators said the employee swung three to four times before asking the other child if the punishment was enough and should stop.

"If you are doing something in that angry state, it could lead to then really things getting out of hand," Runkle-DeLorm said.

A court will now be left to decide if that discipline does indeed cross the line. We do not know how these charges will affect the person’s employment with the department. An initial hearing is set for Nov. 2, with pre-trial beginning in December.