The Rev. Paul E. King, who was convicted last month of felony child abuse, was sentenced Monday to a year of community control -- commonly called house arrest -- with the first three months to be served in jail.
PUNTA GORDA -- The Rev. Paul E. King was convicted of felony child abuse for paddling an 8-year-old hard enough to leave bruises.
King, 48, a pastor at Harborview Church for 10 years and a teacher and administrator at Charlotte Regional Christian Academy, was convicted of paddling an 8-year-old girl so severely that he left bruises on her buttocks. He was taken to county jail immediately after sentencing.
"The state is going to prosecute these cases," said John Burns, the assistant state attorney handling the case.
King's wife, Kendra, a teacher at the school, sat in the courtroom flanked by her two teen-age children. She dabbed away tears as her husband strode beyond the public's view.
Burns had pushed for a year in jail, and said the sentence delivered Monday disappointed him. State law allows a maximum of five years' incarceration for the crime, a third-degree felony.
"This is a severe case. That child was injured. That's unrebuttable, irrefutable," Burns said Monday.
King had been free on bail since his arrest in July 2001. A month before the arrest, he struck student Kimberly Malloy, then 8, twice with a wooden paddle, according to court records.
The girl, now 10 years old, had bruises for two weeks. King said Kimberly had been cheating in his class, and had other disciplinary incidents in the span of one week.
He also said he caught her lying.
"I did not want to spank her, I wanted to change her, and she deserved to be spanked," King said in court, in his own defense, Nov. 16.
A six-member jury in November found King guilty of excessively beating the girl.
King, who plans to file an appeal Thursday morning, will be confined at the Charlotte County jail until then. Bond has been set at $20,000.
In addition to confinement, Judge Sherra J. Winesett also handed King four years of probation, and he isn't allowed to administer or direct corporal punishment of minors.
Also, the judge has required King to undergo psychological counseling and anger management.
His attorney, Mark A. Gruwell, declined comment.
Monday's sentencing debate centered on the extent of the girl's injuries. Photographs shown to the courtroom audience illustrated dark bruises and some redness on her buttocks.
Burns called the marks "severe bruising."
"I would just beg you to not let him do this to anyone else," Kimberly said to the judge Monday in court.
Gruwell, arguing for his client, said, "In this case, not to minimize anything, we're talking about a bruise, a bruise that went away."
Corporal punishment -- physical discipline of a child, including paddling -- is legal in Florida unless it is intentionally injurious.
"Excellent," Ronnie Pipkin, the child's mother, said after sentencing. "The judge did what she felt was best. I am hoping this will serve some purpose, and that this will never happen again."
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