Milwaukee--Journal Sentinel, June 26, 1997

Trial ordered for father in beating case
By Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Journal Sentinel staff

Waukesha -- A man accused of beating his blind 11-year-old daughter with her walking cane because she wet her bed was ordered Wednesday to stand trial after a court commissioner determined the incident had been "more than a spanking."

"I'm not totally against spanking," Court Commissioner Gerald Janis said at a preliminary hearing for Harold A. Luettgen, 45.

"But this appears to be more than a spanking," Janis added.

"When the child is bruised and the bruises are there 12 days later, that's not spanking," Janis said.

"I'm not an expert on bed-wetting," he added, "but you don't spank a child for wetting the bed."

Luettgen, 45, is charged with reckless child abuse by a parent for striking the girl 10 times.

According to the criminal complaint:

The girl, a student at the Wisconsin School for the Visually Handicapped, in Janesville, wet the bed while staying overnight with Luettgen on March 14 in his room at Paragon Health Center, 1512 Whiterock Ave., Waukesha.

Luettgen then began hitting her with her cane.

The girl told a social worker later at school "she believed she was struck 10 times."

Daniel Fay, Luettgen's attorney, argued Wednesday that his client was privileged as a parent to discipline the girl with a spanking. "What's the harm of spanking a child?" Fay asked.

"The question is whether a reasonable person might have spanked the child under the circumstances. That was the second time the child wet the bed," Fay said.

Luettgen's daughter rocked back and forth on a bench during the proceedings.

"We have spanking for discipline purposes," Fay said. "While some of us think it is inappropriate, some people think it is appropriate."

Also, Fay argued, there is no evidence that the girl ever needed any medical attention as a result of her "spanking."

However, Janis said he believed the length of time the girl's bruises remained on her buttocks after the incident indicated it had been more than a spanking.

The case was continued to July 14.

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