PROVO A 23-year-old father sentenced to two months in jail for hitting his young daughter needs to learn that child abuse is unacceptable, a judge said Monday.
Clinton Brandon, 23, previously pleaded guilty to a class A misdemeanor of child abuse for slapping his 16-month-old daughter when she wouldn't go to sleep, leaving a large bruise on her right temple and chin.
Despite pleas from Brandon's attorney to receive credit for 23 days already served and no additional jail time, Judge Samuel McVey was clear that more time was required.
"Someone needs to make an impression on you," he told Brandon. "This is totally unacceptable in society."
Prosecutors previously dropped a charge of child abuse against Brandon, stemming from an alleged "football kick" of his daughter back into their motel room on Aug. 3, because the state's only witness is transient and left the state.
On Aug. 3, Provo police responded to a hotel room at 70 E. 300 South after the witness called police to say he had seen a couple fighting and that Brandon had walked to the baby and "football kicked" her back into the room.
When police responded, they found no bruise on the child's stomach, just the bruise on her right temple and chin.
Police said Brandon's brother later told them he had seen Brandon slap the child with an open hand several days before, angry that she wouldn't go to sleep.
Prosecutor Tim Taylor said he was most concerned that Brandon get help for his anger problem, but also asked for 60 days in jail to send a strong message.
"We've seen too many children that end up at the morgue recently," he said.
The child was removed by the Division of Child and Family Services and Brandon and his wife are working toward reunification, said defense attorney Lisa Crawford.
Crawford said Brandon is participating in therapy and has a job lined up that was on hold until after Monday's sentencing.
Brandon declined to speak in court, however, his wife asked for leniency because she cannot do the reunification proceedings alone emotionally or physically being five months pregnant.
"I know he would never," Sarah Brandon said, then paused, trying to reign in her emotions. "I've never once seen him abuse my children. Never would he hurt them."
McVey interrupted her to ask if she knew her husband had already pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge of child abuse.
"Yes, we talked about it. I've seen the reports," she said, "(But) there was no visible proof that she was kicked. No medical record of it."
McVey told her they weren't here to discuss guilt or innocence, and called her comments completely unreliable.
"The mother is not being realistic," he said. "She's trying to excuse Mr. Brandon's behavior. She needs to start looking out for her children if she wants to (be reunited)."
As well as 60 days in jail in the work-diversion program and 18-months of court probation, McVey ordered that Brandon complete all the assessments and anger-management classes ordered by juvenile court in the DCFS proceedings.
"I hope this makes a difference in your life," McVey told Brandon, "And makes you a father your kids won't have to be afraid of."
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