By Shaley Sanders
POLLOK (KTRE) – Sgt. Mike Jones, an investigator with the Angelina County Sheriff's Office, said that parents are allowed to discipline their children in appropriate areas like the buttocks. However, people can get carried away when they let their anger take over.
Authorities believe that is what happened when 26-year-old Michael Donn Awbrey allegedly spanked his four-year-old stepson, whom authorities believe may be autistic.
"When we investigated the case, it was determined that it was beyond reasonable discipline and it was excessive," Jones said.
Jones said Awbrey removed the child's diaper and spanked him so hard the 4-year-old had dark purple and red bruises, something Child Protective Services says should never happen.
"Anytime there's marks or bruises left on the child's body that is considered abuse and neglect," Shari Pulliam, a CPS media specialist, said. "Especially on a child that young of age. A child that young is not going to understand why they are being hurt, you know, physically for something that they did."
CPS is involved, but as of now, the child's mother has custody of the four-year-old and a child she has with Awbrey. Jones said no action is going to be taken against the mother as long as she acts appropriately.
"Well CPS often sees relationships struggle, especially when there are stepparents involved – children from other marriages," Pulliam said. "It is hard to keep that family unit together.
Awbrey will be allowed supervised visits that will be monitored by the CPS.
"He admitted to what he did," Jones said. "He did show remorse and realized what he did was wrong."
It's a regret that CPS case workers see all too often.
"You need to consider the age of the child," Pulliam said. "You need to step away if you're angry. You need to take a deep breath. And also, you can always ask for help in parenting your child."
Awbrey was charged with injury to a child, a third-degree felony, and placed in the Angelina County Jail Thursday. He was released on a PR bond later that day.
According to the arrest affidavit from the Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace office, the child's mother gave ACSO deputies a written statement of what allegedly happened on Sept. 16. The mother told investigators that Awbrey, the child's step-father, removed their son's diaper and spanked the boy's "bottom area."
After the spanking, Awbrey allegedly came into the bedroom and told the child's mother that he was never going to spank the kids again, the affidavit stated. Awbrey then allegedly told the mother that she needed to see what he had done. In the written statement, she described the severe redness and welts on the child's buttocks.