PROVO — The one person who saw a frustrated father "football kick" his 16-month-old daughter has disappeared, leaving prosecutors no choice but to reduce charges.

Clinton Brandon, 23, was arrested Aug. 3 after a man called police to say that he had seen Brandon fighting with his wife at a motel room on 70 E. 300 South in Provo.

At some point, Brandon got angry enough that he walked to the door and "football kicked" his daughter back into the room, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in 4th District Court.

Brandon was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing last week in 4th District Court, but the key witness — the only witness — has disappeared, said Tim Taylor, deputy Utah County Attorney.

"Our information is he has left the state and he's transient," Taylor said. "We have no way to find him."

So prosecutors filed an amended charge of child abuse, a class A misdemeanor, based on a bruise on the child from a previous incident.

When police responded to the motel room that night, they noticed a bruise on the girl's right temple and down to her chin. Brandon's brother told the officers that he had seen his brother slap the child with an open hand several days earlier, frustrated that she wouldn't go to sleep, police said.

The former charge had been a second-degree felony of child abuse/neglect based on a pattern of abuse, Taylor said. The child has since been removed by the Division of Child and Family Services.

As part of the agreement, defense attorney Lisa Crawford said her client has agreed to abide by a no-contact order with the child.

Brandon received the amended charges last week and pleaded guilty as charged. As part of the plea, Brandon was released from jail until his sentencing Sept. 15.

"You ought to be looking into some type of domestic-violence counseling before sentencing, if you can," Judge Samuel McVey counseled Brandon.

The child's mother — who had defended her husband the night of his arrest and labeled the child clumsy — has failed to keep appointments to meet with prosecutors and cannot be contacted, Taylor said.

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