Two plead to child abuse

Staff Reports • Updated Jul 23, 2014 at 11:36 PM

Two Wilson County men entered pleas Wednesday in criminal court to child abuse charges in unrelated cases.

Joseph R. Jutras, 22, of Lebanon, pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony child abuse. 

Judge David Durham sentenced Jutras to four years in jail, and that sentence was suspended to serve supervised probation minus time served plus court costs. Jutras has remained in Wilson County Jail since Jan. 23 when he was charged with failure to appear and probation violation. 

On Jan. 7, 2012, prosecutors said Jutras slapped a 7-month-old child in the face. The child was taken to University Medical Center after the girl’s mother noticed what appeared to be finger marks on the child’s face after she was with Jutras. 

Prosecutors said Jutras admitted to the mother he became frustrated and slapped the child. Prosecutors said police investigators interviewed Jutras, who claimed the marks were likely caused by the girl falling from a small swing. 

Lebanon police charged Jutras with child abuse April 12, 2013. Police Chief Scott Bowen would not release the report Wednesday.

According to state law, because the state Department of Children’s Services was involved and due to the age of the victim, the police report on the case was deemed confidential and not available for inspection under state open records law. 

As a condition of his probation, Jutras was ordered not to have contact with the child. 

Kevin O. Ochieng, 28, of Mt. Juliet, also pleaded guilty Wednesday to felony child abuse. 

Durham sentenced Ochieng to three years in jail, suspended to serve supervised probation plus court costs. In addition to the standard probation conditions, Ochieng was ordered to follow requirements of the Department of Children’s Services.

He was also eligible to apply for judicial diversion to have his record expunged if he served his probation without incident. 

Prosecutors said Rutland Elementary School officials found bruises on Ochieng’s 7-year-old stepson when the child went to school. The Mt. Juliet police investigation revealed Ochieng whipped the child with a belt, and he admitted disciplining the child by whipping him with a belt, leaving visible marks and bruising, according to prosecutors. 

Wilson County sheriff’s deputies originally charged Ochieng with aggravated child abuse May 15, but he accepted a plea deal Wednesday and pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.

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