Judge bars mother from spanking her daughter
A Stafford mother has been barred from spanking her child for at least two years as part of a plea agreement that got rid of a felony charge she was facing in Stafford Circuit Court.
Felisha Kimble–Tanks, a dentist who practices in Annandale and lives in Stafford, had been charged with child cruelty as the result of a Jan. 16 incident in which she spanked her 6-year-old daughter with a leather belt.
Prosecutor Tara Mooney and defense attorney Mark Murphy reached a deal Wednesday in Circuit Court in which Kimble–Tanks pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, assault and battery on a family member.
Judge Michael Levy did not impose the conviction and will dismiss the case in two years providing that Kimble–Tanks stays out of trouble and doesn’t use corporal punishment.
Mooney said the belt left bruises on the child’s thigh. When her father, who was separated from Kimble–Tanks, saw the bruises two days later, he took the child to the Sheriff’s Office and filed a complaint against his estranged wife.
Mooney said Kimble–Tanks later admitted striking the child because of misconduct in school but said she was simply trying to discipline the child and did not intend to bruise her.
But Mooney said Kimble–Tanks “crossed the line” between discipline and abuse. “Leaving bruises on a child that young is abuse,” Mooney said.
Murphy disagreed and said he was prepared to go to trial had Mooney persisted in seeking a felony conviction. He said Kimble–Tanks took the deal because it carries no punishment and will go away in two years.
“This is a woman who has never been in trouble before and I’m certain will not be in trouble over the next two years,” Murphy said.
Murphy said it was the first time his client had used a belt on the child and she was simply trying to emphasize the need for good behavior. He said that even her estranged husband acknowledged that Kimble–Tanks is a good mother.
Keith Epps: 540/374-5404