Father guilty of child abuse, By Tom Smith, Senior Staff Writer, Times Daily, August 16, 2008

RUSSELLVILLE, ALABAMA -- A Franklin County man accused of severely whipping his teenage daughter in the face and head with a belt was found guilty of child abuse Friday, authorities said.

Courthouse officials said it took just more than 90 minutes for a jury to find 42-year-old Lonnie Paul Pounders, of 6397 Waterloo Road, Russellville, guilty.

Child abuse is a Class C felony and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Pounders will be sentenced Sept. 24 by Circuit Judge Terry Dempsey.

In the meanwhile, Pounders remains out of jail on $22,500 bail.

Investigators said Pounders was accused of standing over his daughter, who was 17 at the time of the attack in March 2006, and repeatedly hitting her with a belt in the face, ear, eye, neck, shoulders and back of her head. Reports indicated she was hit at least 15 times.

Authorities said the girl had bruises and marks all over her face and neck as well as both arms. They said she also suffered a black eye from the whipping. The incident was reported to the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.

The whipping occurred March 16, 2006, at their house, officials said.

A mistrial in the case was declared in April 2008 when the jury was deadlocked on a 10-2 vote to convict.

"I believe this jury sent a message that this type of physical abuse is inappropriate and will not be tolerated," Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said after Friday's decision.

During the trial, Pounders' defense was that he was trying to spank his daughter on her rear end with the belt, but she was moving around fighting him and the wounds were the result of the struggle.

Rushing said photos and testimony from a medical expert contradicted the defense.

The girl also testified that the bruising to her eye, ear and arms was a result of her covering her face during the beating.

"Our argument was that Mr. Pounders lost control and struck his own child with a leather belt over 15 times in the face and head area,' Rushing said.

"This is a perfect example of why a child, no matter what age, should not be disciplined until a parent has regained control after becoming angry." Tom Smith can be reached at 740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.

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