Milwaukee--Journal Sentinel, October 2,1997

Father fined $500 in battery to daughter
By Lisa Sink of the Journal Sentinel staff

Waukesha -- A man initially accused of beating his blind daughter with her walking cane pleaded no contest Wednesday to a reduced charge and was fined $500.

No jail or probation sentence was imposed on Harold A. Luettgen, 46, formerly of Waukesha, who has moved to Colorado, away from his family and 11-year-old daughter.

The $500 fine was sought Wednesday by Assistant District Attorney Debra Blasius, who originally charged Luettgen with felony reckless child abuse.

Blasius told Circuit Judge Joseph Wimmer several factors had prompted her to agree to amend the charge to misdemeanor battery, to which Luettgen pleaded no contest.

Blasius said that there was some discrepancy on the daughter's part over whether her father spanked her with a cane or with his hand March 14 at his apartment above the Paragon Health Center, 1512 Whiterock Ave.

"(The girl) gave two versions," Blasius said. Welts and bruises found on the girl "certainly could have been made by a cane," Blasius said, but added that investigators were not certain.

She also told Wimmer that she wanted to spare the girl from having to testify at trial and was unsure whether the girl would make for a good witness.

The girl's parents are in the middle of a divorce, and Luettgen has moved out of state after completing counseling, Blasius added.

"We feel that the amended (charge) is necessary for a resolution," she said.

Luettgen's attorney, Daniel Fay, said that had the felony charge gone to trial, he would have argued that Luettgen simply exercised his privilege as a parent to discipline his child.

He called the case one of "reasonable spanking."

Blasius disagreed. "He went too far," she said Wednesday.

Fay noted that Luettgen had lost his engineering job after being charged but found a new one in Colorado, which he needed to continue to provide financial support to his family.

If Luettgen were placed on probation, he probably would have to stay in Wisconsin under supervision and would again lose his job, Fay argued.

Wimmer agreed not to place Luettgen on probation or require any counseling since he had already completed parenting sessions.

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