DECATUR — A Decatur man is accused by police of punishing a 9-year-old child who played with a lighter by burning him with the metal tip of that lighter Sunday afternoon and whipping him with a belt.

A sworn affidavit said the 29-year-old man was arrested on preliminary charges of aggravated battery to a child and two counts of domestic battery; preliminary charges are subject to review by the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Writing in the affidavit, Decatur Police Officer Zachary Wakeland quotes the child's mother as explaining the trouble started when her 9-year-old son accidentally burned the face of his nearly 2-year-old brother while messing with the lighter.

The man responded by whipping the older boy across his buttocks with a belt and then the boy described to police how the man had used the lighter to punish him further.

“(The boy) said (the man) held the flame to make the top of the lighter hot then pressed it on his arm,” added Wakeland. “I observed a raised red burn, which is in the shape of the top of a lighter, on the tricep area of the (the boy’s) right arm.”

The mother told police she got into an argument with her boyfriend over the ferocity of his discipline and, when she tried to leave with the children, she said he refused to let her and shoved her in the face with an open hand, scratching her left cheek.

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Wakeland said the man was arrested and taken to the Macon County Jail where he agreed to talk about what happened. He said he had whipped the 9-year-old twice “on the butt” with the belt after he burned his brother while trying to set a wall on fire. “He said he continuously flicked the lighter to scare (the boy) into telling the truth about burning his (brother’s) arm,” said Wakeland.

“(He) denied every putting the hot lighter against (the boy’s) arm.”

The man remained held in the jail Monday night in lieu of posting bond set at $30,000. It was unclear from the sworn affidavit whether the Department of Children and Family Services has been called in relation to the case. Calls for comment to Decatur Police were not immediately returned Monday. 

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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


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