DECATUR — A Decatur man is pleading not guilty to charges he severely beat two children under 14 with a leather belt during the height of the summer because they had asked for an air conditioner.

The case against Michael A. Swanson Sr., 41, came up for a pre-trial hearing Wednesday at Macon County Circuit Court. He is charged with causing aggravated battery to the children involving bodily harm. Swanson has been held in the Macon County Jail since his arrest July 28.

Prosecutors say Swanson dragged the children out of bed and forced them to stand on the front porch late on the night of July 23. One of the children told police that Swanson was mad because the child had contacted a relative asking for an air conditioner, according to a sworn police affidavit.

The children said Swanson took a thick leather belt and swung it at their lower legs, causing "extreme pain," the affidavit said. One child said Swanson struck them more than 20 times with a belt. 

Police, who interviewed the children four days after they said the beating occurred, said the extensive bruising on both of them was still obvious.

The affidavit said officers intervened after the alarm had been raised by another child staying at the same address.

The case is now set for a new pretrial hearing Nov. 22.

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Staff Writer

Courts and public safety reporter for the Herald & Review.

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