Man sentenced after beating child with belt

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RANDOLPH COUNTY – A Randolph County man who pleaded guilty to battery after admitting he used a belt to whip a 3-year-old boy last year learned his punishment.

A judge sentenced Jerrod Graves, 22, to three years with two years suspended. Graves can serve out the remaining year of his sentence through a work-release program at the Randolph County Jail. He received credit for 154 days spent in jail. When he’s released, Graves will also be on probation for two years.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors dropped a second felony count of neglect of a dependent. That charge typically carries a four-year prison term.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Graves texted his girlfriend on Sept. 26, 2012, saying that “he was sick” of the 3-year-old boy he was taking care of. The child belonged to Graves’ girlfriend and he was watching him. His girlfriend called a neighbor to pick up the boy. That neighbor then sent Graves’ girlfriend a picture showing red marks on the child’s legs.

Officers saw marks “on the inner part of (the child’s) left leg above the knee and to the right of his private area,” court documents said. The boy told officers that “Jerrod whipped me” and showed them where it happened.

When approached by police, Graves admitted he disciplined the boy for getting into a purse and his wallet. He denied whipping the boy, saying he had his girlfriend’s permission to spank the child.

A further examination of the boy showed “deep bruising on the lower back, bruising on the left lower inner leg and welts in a pattern of approximately 1-inch wide.” The welts “appeared to be caused by an object similar to a belt,” investigators noted.

During an interview with police, the boy’s older brother said Graves spanked the child with a belt. “He reported hearing (his brother) scream as he was being spanked, and that Graves struck him 8 times,” court documents said.

Graves initially denied spanking the boy. Later, he admitted he spanked the child but insisted he used his hand. During subsequent questioning, he admitted to police that he used a belt, saying “that is the only way that he knows how to handle it.” He added that he “bets (the child) won’t do that again.”

Police then arrested Graves on charges of neglect of a dependent and battery.

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