Columbus man charged with child cruelty admits to striking teenage son

Sarah Robinson

A group of fire officials helped rescue a 16-year-old boy who was being beaten Saturday evening at the corner of Britt Avenue and Schaul Street, according to testimony today in Columbus Recorder's Court.

Clarence Alvin Ross, 42, of Columbus who admitted to "whipping" his teenage son, pleaded not guilty to one count each of first-degree cruelty to children and disorderly conduct stemming from the incident. Judge Michael Joyner ordered him to return to the Muscogee County Jail under bonds totaling $5,250.

The case was bound over to Superior Court.

Columbus Fire Capt. Mary Simonton told the court she was walking on Britt Avenue towards Schaul Street when she saw a man later identified as Ross standing in the middle of the road, waving a large belt in his hand and screaming in the direction of a house across the street.

According to Simonton's testimony, Ross was repeatedly yelling, "You better get in this yard!"

"I didn't know what or whom he was speaking to because I didn't see into their yard, and I didn't want to get involved," she testified. "I turned around and went back."

About 10 or 12 minutes later, a driver traveling in a van stopped and informed her that a man was "beating a kid" nearby. 

That's when Simonton rushed back to the 1126 Brown Ave. fire station to alert fire medic Cecil Smith, Sgt. John Carver and firefighter John Freiberg about the incident. They followed her back to the intersection of Britt Avenue and Schaul Street, where they all witnessed Ross striking the teenage boy with belt multiple times, according to police.

"As I approach him, I just see him beating this child with a very large belt, full swings behind him and over," Simonton testified. "He was beating him anywhere the belt could make contact."

Simonton said the boy was sitting on the curb with his arm up trying to deflect the lashes, and she begged Ross to stop striking him. The defendant refused to stop and responded, "He hits me. I hit him," according to her account of the incident.

That's when Simonton called police to the scene.

The suspect eventually walked away from the victim, and the fire officials immediately surrounded the boy to protect him from further abuse.

The testifying officer said he was called to the scene around 5:30 p.m. and found the boy sitting on the curb with red marks on his face, ear, head, neck, chest and back. A police report indicates that the victim wasn't treated immediately following the incident but is in good condition.

Ross kept yelling that no one could tell him how to raise his child, authorities said. 

The testify officer said he repeatedly told Ross to stop yelling, but the defendant continued to do so, which led to his disorderly charge.

Ross told the court that he was trying to rescue his son, who was in the road at the time, from oncoming traffic when the teenage boy struck him.

"I tried to tackle him and get him out of the road, but he turned around and swung on me," Ross said. "We both hit the ground. He kept on hitting me, so I started whipping him."

Ross admitted that he was not injured.

— Sarah is a crime & safety reporter at The Ledger-Enquirer. You can contact her on Twitter at @SarahR_92.