Father accused of abusing his daughter - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Father accused of abusing his daughter

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August 31, 2002

Albany- Russell Hassenstab has a warning for parents. He says it is dangerous to discipline your child. He adds,"Be care if you do paddle your child because if you do mark the, you may go to jail and face severe penalties."

Hassenstab says when his eleven year old daughter disobeyed him and did not do her chores, he paddled her on her behind.

He says the next day his daughter went to school at Robert A. Cross Middle, and she told the counselor he abused her.

School officials turned the case over to the Department of Family and Children Services and then, the Dougherty County Police Department got involved. Hassenstab says this has changed his entire life.

Hassenstab says, "I feel like I've done nothing wrong. I discipline just like any parent would discipline their child."

Municipal Court Judge Willie Weaver says he has handled cases like this many times, and he says parents must be extremely careful when disciplining their children because the consequences can be severe.

Weaver says,"The law in Georgia is that if a kid reports such abuse or a child comes to school with bruises, they have no excuse but to report it."

As a father, Weaver also says parents must know what to do to maintain discipline without being arrested.

Weaver adds, "You can't whip a kid when you're angry, and anger sometimes brings out the worst in you. That's why kids have bruises."

Hassenstab says he worries everyday about this case, and he says it's still hard for him to believe that what he calls an innocent spanking turned into a criminal act.

Weaver says Hassenstab could face one year in jail if he's convicted of a misdemeanor. He could face up to five years in prison for a felony, or he could even be charged with aggravated assault, which could mean up to twenty years in prison.