A man living at a residence near the Gaston / Lincoln County line was taken into custody earlier this week after authorities said he used a plastic bat to hit his two stepchildren, sending one to the hospital.
According to Cherryville Police Lt. Mike Allred, who responded with Sgt. Frank Dellinger to the residence on West Church Street, 25-year-old Juan Uriel Tapia-Martinez is accused of physically abusing the 3- and 5-year-old boys who were living with him inside the home.
Tapia-Martinez was booked in the Gaston County Detention Center and charged with two counts of misdemeanor child abuse, police said.
While at the home, they also talked with the boysâ€™ mother.
Although the suspect was placed under a $5,000 secured bond for the abuse charges, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a detainer on him for possibly being an illegal Mexican immigrant, authorities noted.
The felony detainer was first placed on him in March 2010 when he was arrested in Gaston County for a traffic violation.
However, according to the jail website, the courts both dismissed the violation and released him from custody.
The victimâ€™s were struck in the head, back and chest, police said, and one of the children was taken to the hospital for a check of his injuries.
Although he was bruised in the incident, authorities noted that he is currently doing OK.
Gaston County Department of Social Services is aiding the family, police noted.
Tapia-Martinez is expected to make a court appearance for the abuse charges on Nov. 8.
JENNA-LEY HARRISON, Staff Writer