Parents sentenced for excessive force in disciplining children

Parents sentenced for excessive force in disciplining children

URBANA — An Urbana couple who admitted they used excessive force to discipline their children have been sentenced to probation and a period of home confinement.

Eric Smith, 41, and Cheryl Smith, 44, of the 1500 block of South Abercorn Street, each pleaded guilty Tuesday before Judge Tom Difanis to aggravated battery of a child, admitting that in March of this year, they struck their two older daughters with cords and hands, leaving marks on the girls.

Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Weber said the beatings came to the attention of authorities in mid-March when the couple's 11-year-old child told a counselor at Urbana Middle School she didn't want to go home because of the punishment she would receive.

Weber said police and the Department of Children and Family Services launched an investigation and found that the injuries the girl and her 12-year-old sister had were consistent with their reports that Eric Smith would strike them with his hands or electrical cords while Cheryl Smith held them down.

Weber said medical professionals documented about 40 marks or bruises on the middle child, and five or six on her older sister. Weber said no marks were found on the youngest of the three children.

The Smiths were each sentenced to 30 months of probation and 180 days in the county jail but the jail staff approved the couple for home incarceration. Weber said neither of them had any prior convictions.

Their children are currently in foster care.

In return for the Smiths' guilty pleas to the Class 3 felony, a more serious Class X felony charge of aggravated battery to a child was dismissed in each of their cases.

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