Po­lice: Round Rock man lashed son, 9, with belt mul­ti­ple times

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Claire Os­born cos­born@states­man.com

A Round Rock man is ac­cused of lash­ing his 9-yearold son mul­ti­ple times with a leather belt, ac­cord­ing to an ar­rest af­fi­davit. Jerel Ben­jamin, 44, was charged Tues­day with in­jury to a child, a first-de­gree felony pun­ish­able by up to 99 years in pri­son.

The boy and his 13-year-old brother live in Round Rock with Ben­jamin, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

Au­thor­i­ties were alerted af­ter the boys went to visit their mother in Napa, Cal­i­for­nia, for spring break, the doc­u­ment said. It said she called the Napa County sher­iff ’s of­fice March 12 to re­port that her 9-year-old son had been phys­i­cally abused.

The boy told his mother that his fa­ther had spanked him for an hour March 10 for ly­ing to his teacher, the af­fi­davit said. His mother found mul­ti­ple lash­ing-type in­juries on his lower legs, the doc­u­ment said. The boy said his fa­ther spanked him on his legs, his back and his pri­vate parts with a braided leather belt, it said.

When his fa­ther spanked him, the boy said, the fa­ther told him the boy was “evil” and also said “you’re not go­ing to sur­vive in this house,” the af­fi­davit said. It said the boy’s 13-year-old brother told an in­ves­ti­ga­tor his fa­ther spanks his lit­tle brother at least once a week and “is try­ing to get a mes­sage through” to the 9-year-old.

When an in­ves­ti­ga­tor in Cal­i­for­nia called Ben­jamin, Ben­jamin said, “In his house they don’t have abuse, they have mea­sured dis­ci­pline,” the af­fi­davit said.

It said Ben­jamin told the in­ves­ti­ga­tor he had spanked his 9-year-old son three or four times with a belt. He also said he gave up try­ing to spank the boy be­cause the boy was “jump­ing around,” the af­fi­davit said.

It said when the in­ves­ti­ga­tor asked Ben­jamin about the “ex­ces­sive dis­ci­pline,” Ben­jamin dis­agreed with the in­ves­ti­ga­tor.

Pho­tos of the 9-year-old boy’s in­juries showed mul- tiple lash-type in­juries on his left leg with a wo­ven­type pat­tern, bruis­ing on the boy’s right calf and large bruises on the in­side of the boy’s thighs, in­clud­ing ones with scabs, the af­fi­davit said.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors also saw in the pho­tos “old heal­ing lashtype wounds” on the boy’s back and a “goose egg” on the boy’s head, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit. The boy said his fa­ther hit him in the head with a plas­tic toy gun, ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit.

It said a Round Rock po­lice de­tec­tive tried to call Ben­jamin for an in­ter­view but Ben­jamin never re­turned the call. Ben­jamin was re­leased from the Wil­liamson County Jail on Wed­nes­day af­ter post­ing bail set at $20,000. con­firmed whether the IHOP rob­beries in the two cities are re­lated.

Mean­while in San Mar­cos, au­thor­i­ties said they, too, were look­ing for a man in a hoodie with light-col­ored sleeves who was car­ry­ing a hand­gun af­ter he tried to break into a Wingstop res­tau­rant about a half-hour be­fore the Kyle IHOP rob­bery.

A few min­utes af­ter the res­tau­rant at 913 Texas 80 had closed, cus­tomers still eat­ing in­side told po­lice they saw the man try­ing to open the res­tau­rant door. He bran­dished a small, sil­ver-col­ored hand­gun as he kept try­ing to break in, wit­nesses told po­lice.

The man even­tu­ally ran off be­fore San Mar­cos po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rived at the res­tau­rant just af­ter 11:45 p.m. Wed­nes­day, of­fi­cials said. Po­lice searched the nearby area, but they did not find the man.

A few hours later in Austin, po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing a rob­bery at a Chevron gas sta­tion near In­ter­state 35 and Lady Bird Lake around 2:30 a.m. Thurs­day. Po­lice said the rob­ber there also wore a dark shirt and a blue ban­dana.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion about the in­ci­dents can call Kyle po­lice at 512-268-3232 or San Mar­cos po­lice at 512753-2108.

Jerel Ben­jamin, 44, was charged with in­jury to a child.

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