BENNINGTON >> A local man is facing misdemeanor charges after he allegedly spanked an 8-month-old child, leaving a bruise.

Dustin J. Mears, 25, of Bennington, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Vermont Superior Court to misdemeanor domestic assault, cruelty to a child under 10, and violating release conditions. He was released under the conditions he not contact the child nor its mother.

According to an affidavit by Vermont State Trooper Robert Zink, on Jan. 27 he and a Department for Children and Families investigator met with the mother of an 8-month-old child who said she noticed a bruise on its left buttock after leaving it overnight with Mears. Zink wrote that the bruise appeared to have been made by a hand.

Police spoke to Mears, who at first said he was handing the child to one of roommates but lost his grip, catching the child but not before it bumped its rear on a table. Mears said he noticed the red mark, which became a bruise.

Mears then said that was a lie, that he spanked the child because it had been crying. He said he realized this was wrong and that he needs help dealing with his anger and depression issues.

— Staff reports



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