A man accused of putting welts and bruises on a 4-year-old girl's face and body admitted in Columbus Recorder's Court today that he struck the child with a belt.
Gregory Anderson, 29, of pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree cruelty to children stemming from the Dec. 19 incident reported to have happened in his Delray Drive residence.
Columbus Police Officer Brittney Geibert said she was called to the victim's home around 9 p.m. that night to investigate the assault.
Geibert told the court that she met with the the victim's grandmother, who stated that the girl was one of a handful of kids Anderson babysat earlier that day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Shortly after the kids returned home, one of them told the grandmother that Anderson had struck the victim with a belt after she accidentally hit one of his kids with a tablet, police testified.
The kid said Anderson struck the child, "because he was angry about her making another child upset within the home," according to police testimony.
Geibert said she saw bruising on the child's face and took photographs of the injuries, which appeared to be "fresh." Anderson didn't harm any of the other children, she added.
"The bruising on the face had already started to form on her left side," the officer testified. "There were lash welts on the left side of her back, and she had a few welts to the back of her left leg."
Police said her family refused to let EMS officials treat the young girl, but she looked as if she would be "okay."
The Muscogee Division of Family and Children Services was notified about the situation.
Geibert said they tried to obtain Anderson's contact information from his girlfriend, who is the victim's mother, but she refused to cooperate with them.
"She stated that he would never do such a thing and that the kids were lying," Geibert testified.
Officials were able to get some helpful information from the grandmother that led them to issue an arrest warrant for Anderson's arrest. He was captured 10:40 p.m. Saturday in Ace Bonding Company's Columbus parking lot on Seventh Avenue.
Anderson told the court that he only struck the child on her bottom with a belt as a form of punishment, because the girl hit his 3-year-old daughter with a tablet.
"I would never hurt these kids or nothing like that at all," he testified.
The victim's mother defended Anderson in court, stating that the child who mentioned the incident to her mother wasn't even at the defendant's residence at that time.
The mother said her 6-year-old son "admitted to scratching" her daughter's face.
"...I'm not going off the words of children, because they are children that are talking," the mother testified. "And my mom's going to run with it, because she has an issue with me."
Judge Michael Joyner issued the defendant a $5,000 Own Recognizance bond under the condition that Anderson stay away from the girl until his case is presented in Superior Court.
"I'm letting him out, because he's cooperating," Joyner said to the mother. "He's going to come home, but you better make arrangements so the child and him don't mix."
The judge said he will issue a standard bond if Anderson violates the conditions of his current bond.
— Sarah is a crime & safety reporter at The Ledger-Enquirer. You can contact her on Twitter at @SarahR_92.