PORT CHARLOTTE -- The director of a parochial school was arrested after paddling an 8-year-old student as punishment for lying, officials said.
Paul King, director of Charlotte Regional Christian Academy, was arrested Monday and charged with aggravated child abuse for spanking the girl twice with a board, officials said.
"I'm shocked charges were filed," said King, a pastor at Harborview Christian Church. "I look forward to being vindicated."
King was released from Charlotte County jail after posting $20,000 bail.
Students at the academy are disciplined with paddling as a last resort after other punishments fail, King said. Parents must sign a note agreeing with the policy before their children enroll, he said.
Tammy Pipkin, the girl's mother, said her daughter received a severe beating. Hours after the May 11 incident, the girl had a mark about 4 inches wide and 6 inches long with welts standing out a quarter of an inch, she said.
Pipkin, of Port Charlotte, said she pulled her daughter out of the school after the punishment.
King said he used a paddle for the spanking, while a school volunteer who witnessed it said King used a piece of wood.
The girl was disciplined after she repeatedly lied and gossiped, King said. Earlier the same day, she had been ordered to squat against a wall for 15 minutes and write a biblical phrase 50 times, he said.
Pipkin said King had put two older students in charge of her daughter's classroom. There was friction between the 8 year old and the older students, and King took their word over her daughter's, she said.
King is scheduled to be arraigned July 19.