Man pleads guilty to child abuse

ELKINS – A Dailey man entered a guilty plea in Randolph County Circuit Court Tuesday to a child abuse charge stemming from an incident in which he allegedly beat his step-son with a metal pipe.

Raymond James Kale, Jr., 27, pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse resulting in bodily injury. Assistant Prosecutor Christina Harper said his remaining charges would be dropped pending his agreement to the plea.

Kale had been accused of beating his 9-year-old step-son and 7-year-old step-daughter in a May 2013 incident.

Kale was indicted on two felony counts of child abuse resulting in injury, child abuse or neglect creating risk of injury. His partner, Loren J. Garcia, 31, the mother of the children, is charged with one felony count of child neglect resulting in injury, child abuse or neglect creating risk of injury, and one count of child abuse resulting in injury, child abuse or neglect creating risk of injury.

Asked to explain to the court Tuesday what he had done, Kale said he “used progressive discipline” and “more force than necessary” on his step-son. When Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong asked him if he meant physical force, Kale said he did. Kale also said the injuries the boy sustained “were not received by accident.”

Kale faces one to five years in a state penitentiary. His sentencing is scheduled for June 3.

Garcia also appeared in Circuit Court Tuesday, with her attorney, Chris Cooper, saying a plea agreement was being worked on and scheduling another status hearing would provide both parties enough time to reach a complete agreement.

Wilfong scheduled a plea hearing for 9 a.m. Friday, but said if the plea agreement fell through, the time will be used as a status hearing to set a trial date.

According to the criminal complaint written by Senior Trooper S.E. Hevener of the West Virginia State Police, Hevener and a Child Protective Services employee met with the boy at his school, where they observed multiple bruises on the boy’s body: a wound on his back was consistent with a straight line from a wound on his arm; a wound on his left leg was greenish-yellow in color; and his entire right buttock was discolored black and blue, according to the complaint.

The boy reportedly told Hevener that Kale had struck him with a metal pipe and a belt about 80 times and threw the pipe at him at one point, leaving a circular bruise with broken skin. The boy allegedly said Kale initially struck him about 10 times with the pipe, and then the boy tried to run away, but his mother, Garcia, grabbed him and held him. Kale then hit him with the pipe about 70 more times, the complaint states.

Hevener and the Child Protective Services employee spoke with the girl, according to the complaint. She said Kale also struck her and that she received about 100 “whacks” from the metal pipe. Hevener wrote that the girl had yellowish bruising on her buttocks and leg.

Within hours, Hevener obtained a search warrant for the home of Kale and Garcia. While searching the residence, Hevener found a black metal pipe about one inch in diameter and about two feet long “that was an extra piece to a shower organizer,” according to the complaint.

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