Tribune-Courier News Reporter
A domestic assault charge rarely makes its way through the court system to a jury trial. More typically, a plea agreement is reached where the accused party agrees to the charges or lessened charges, with or without jail time and other conditions.
But last Friday, the case of a father who was charged with assaulting his son in connection to an incident that occurred at the Benton City Pool in July 2012 found its way before a jury, at the insistence of the accused.
In the end, the jury ruled in favor of the defendant Chris Harvey.
Harvey’s attorney, Jeremy Ian Smith, successfully convinced the jury of four men and two women his client was disciplining his teenage son, who had spilled a drink and referred to a pool employee with a derogatory term when the two became involved in a physical altercation. The incident had escalated as Harvey attempted to calm his son and ultimately resulted in Harvey slapping the teenager in the face.
Smith said Harvey tried to get the situation under control, but in the end he did smack his son – a fact Harvey admitted the day of the incident and in court again on Friday.
“This case can be summed up as, ‘spare the rod, spoil the child,’” Smith said. “If you don’t discipline, it’s only going to get worse.”
Special Prosecutor Brandon Knoth argued there was more than a single slap, with witness testimony to that effect.
“Memories change over time and I believe that’s what happened,” Smith said in closing arguments. The only we thing we do know is that (teen’s name deleted) was acting – to sum it up – like a jerk, and the only person there that could pull him back to some kind of normalcy was his dad.”
In a letter to The Tribune-Courier earlier this year, Harvey said “100-percent exoneration” was his goal. “Just know that I did what I thought was right and what many citizens of Benton have personally told me that they would have done if faced with a similar situation,” Harvey wrote. “Raising kids is difficult. It is a job I take seriously. It upsets me greatly for people to think I would assault any child, much less my own.”
Harvey is a teacher at Benton Middle School and was, at the time of the incident, the manager of the municipal pool. He was terminated from his position with the city as a result of the incident and for a time was moved to the central office of the Marshall County School System, but is currently back in the classroom.
Harvey has also filed a civil case in federal court alleging his constitutional rights were violated by Benton Police Officer Darryl Carr at the time of his arrest.