LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The attorney for a local woman arrested for cruelty says the step mom was only disciplining her child when she hit him with a fly swatter. However the sheriff says bruises on the little boy suggest otherwise. Says defense attorney Larry Pichon, "The child was hit with a fly swatter but as a correction for the child having done wrong, not in any kind of abusive or mean way."
Twenty-nine year old Jessica Lofton was arrested for cruelty after allegedly whipping her seven year old step son with a fly swatter; the kind with a white wire loop handle.
Deputies say when questioned by detectives Lofton admitted she whipped the boy on his legs. While deputies say the child was bruised, Pichon says she never meant to hurt the child. "It's been totally blown out of proportion in that she was just correcting the child for having gone out side when he knew he's not supposed to be outside because there's a registered sex offender across the street."
However, Calcasieu Sheriff' Tony Mancuso says he's seen photos of the child that convince him Lofton crossed the line. "In my opinion, this child has been abused. I say that because of the marks that are all over the body. And I say that because there's not too many spots that did not have a mark or bruise on them."
Mancuso says he doesn't necessarily oppose spanking but that parents must use common sense and not injure children. "When you spank a child you should not hit them in the face, you shouldn't leave bruises and deep marks. If you use a belt or a switch you should understand that these are small children to and don't carry it overboard. There is a point where it becomes abuse and not just a spanking and people need to understand that."
Pichon thinks the district attorney should decline to accept criminal charges on Lofton. "I know as a child I had to go pick a branch off of a bush to be spanked with, you know? And it's just to the point that you can't correct your children."
Pichon says a bruise on the child's back was actually caused by the family's four month old Great Dane.
Lofton was booked for cruelty to a juvenile but has been released from jail on $3500 bond. The State Office of Community Services removed the boy from the home and put him in foster care. The incident was reported to authorities in May when the child's teacher noticed bruises and contacted law enforcement.