June 18, 2018
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Toddler taken from parents after spanking allegedly leaves ‘severe’ bruises

Knox County Jail | BDN
Knox County Jail | BDN
Christopher Cunningham
By Heather Steeves, BDN Staff

UNION, Maine — A 25-year-old local man was arrested over the weekend and charged with domestic violence assault and aggravated assault for brutally spanking his 4-year-old stepson, according to police.

Christopher Cunningham of Union was arrested after police found “severe” bruises covering his stepson’s bottom.

The boy’s grandmother, who lives in the same building as Cunningham, called police Saturday after she saw the black and blue bruises. When police showed up, the boy was playing in his grandmother’s yard.

“I introduced myself to [the boy] and asked if he hurt anywhere. He nodded his head yes. I asked him why he hurt and he put his hand on his left buttocks, up and down in a spanking motion,” Detective Dwight Burtis of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office wrote in an affidavit filed in Knox County Superior Court.

Burtis indicated that when the boy pulled his pants down, the detective saw “severe” bruising. When questioned, Cunningham admitted that he had spanked the boy the night before, according to the affidavit.

“Cunningham told me that he was not surprised and attempted to justify his assault by stating that [the boy] was being bad and needed a good spanking,” Burtis wrote.

When Burtis told Cunningham’s wife — the boy’s mom — about the arrest, she told Burtis that the boy had been disruptive the night before and refused to go to sleep.

“She told me that he had been waking up his baby brother with his bad behavior. She went on to explain that she picked him up by his arms at one point and spanked him,” Burtis wrote. “Then she told me that her husband became very angry and picked Thomas up by the arms and shook him. She said that her husband then put [the boy] over his knee and spanked him hard.”

After hearing this, Burtis called the Department of Health and Human Services child protective division. The boy was brought to a local hospital to assess his injuries, including arm bruises. DHHS mandated that the mother not be allowed to be with her children unsupervised until the department investigates the matter, according to Burtis. The affidavit did not specify who the boy will live with during the investigation.

Cunningham was arrested Saturday and brought to Knox County Jail where he bailed out with $5,000 cash on Monday.

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