Journal Sentinel, December 7, 1999

9-year-old was punished with bat, had his hands stapled to board, complaint says
By Meg Jones, Journal Sentinel staff

A Baraboo couple accused of beating a 9-year-old boy with a baseball bat and stapling his hands to a board with a roofing staple gun will appear in court Thursday on child abuse charges.

Bryan N. Adams, 28, was charged Monday in Sauk County Circuit Court with four counts of physical abuse of a child. His girlfriend, Mary L. Steinich, 34, was charged with one count each of physical abuse of a child and failure to prevent bodily harm to a child.

The criminal complaint alleges that:

The abuse came to light after a Baraboo elementary school principal noticed Sept. 17 that the 9-year-old boy had a dollar bill, which she regarded as suspicious because the boy had a history of stealing things. When she confronted him about it, the boy said he got it from a girl who owed him $1.

The principal contacted Steinich who, along with Adams, confronted the boy that day about the money. When the boy said he got the dollar from a girl, Steinich reportedly told him "You're lying, the principal already told us."

Adams hit the boy's legs and arms with a wooden baseball bat. They continued to ask him where he got the money, and Adams hit the boy in the head with the bat as the youngster made up different explanations.

Adams then told the boy to do push-ups, which the boy did until he got tired, he told investigators. When he stopped and tried to get up, Adams hit him again with the baseball bat. So, the boy said, he did more push-ups. When he stopped again, Steinich yelled, "Shut up" and hit him with the bat.

The boy's eye was swollen shut, so Steinich and Adams did not send him to school. A 10-year-old boy who also lives in the home was told not to tell anyone what happened and if anyone asked at school to say that the 9-year-old was sick.

The principal noticed the boy was not in school the following week, and she asked a 5-year-old girl who lives in the home why he wasn't in class. The girl replied that Adams had hit the boy with a bat. When the boy returned to school Sept. 27, the principal noticed a bump that was healing on his eyebrow, so she contacted police.

When detectives began investigating the case, other abuse allegations surfaced.

The 9-year-old boy said Adams twice stapled his hands to a wooden board last summer, each time driving at least 10 staples into his fingers and hands. The boy said Adams got mad at him because he got up in the middle of the night to get something to eat. He said Steinich was in the room both times when Adams stapled his hands, but she didn't stop Adams.

The 9-year-old boy and 10-year-old boy also said Adams picked them up by their necks and threw them into a wall in September because he thought the boys were goofing off when they were supposed to be cleaning a bedroom.

Baraboo police Lt. Craig Olsen said it was one of the most serious child abuse cases he has seen.

"I think, based on what information is there, I'd have to say it qualifies as unusual circumstances. In this case particularly, the instrument used is quite different," Olsen said, referring to the staple gun.

Olsen declined to comment further on the case. Assistant District Attorney Kevin Calkins did not return a phone message Tuesday. The phone line for Steinich and Adams in Baraboo was disconnected.

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