No wrong in discipline
Attorney defends man who slapped his daughter in her face
In Angella Mitchell-Gittens’ response to the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court, she expressed the view that something was wrong with the entire situation.
“I hope that parents never reach the stage in this jurisdiction where they feel restrained in disciplining their children . . . Quite frankly, I don’t understand the type of precedent we would be setting,” the lawyer said.
Desmond Felicien was charged with assaulting his daughter on August 6 and occasioning her actual bodily harm. The self-employed vendor, of Ellis Village, Halls Road, St Michael pleaded guilty to the offence when he went before acting Magistrate Elwood Watts.
In the facts which Sergeant Theodore McClean presented, Felicien took his daughter to a Bridgetown mall on Thursday to come back for her at 5 p.m. When he got there, he did not see her initially and tried to contact her. When he saw her coming, he beckoned to her.
The girl sucked her teeth and walked away, after which her father spoke to her about her behaviour. Felicien slapped her twice across the face and pushed her up the stairs of the mall. The matter was reported to the police and Felicien later turned himself in.
Mitigating on his behalf, Mitchell-Gittens said she found it “a little shocking that Mr Felicien would have found himself charged”.
“He speaks to his 14-year-old daughter who is disrespectful and she gets two slaps, which is the expected reaction when children in the Caribbean suck their teeth . . . ,” the lawyer remarked.
“I don’t know why that would have gotten to the stage where that would result in criminal charge,” she contended.
“She should have been apologizing profusely instead of reporting the matter . . . If something is not wrong with that, I don’t know Sir.”
Adding that her client took full responsibility for his actions, Mitchell-Gittens asked the court to reprimand and discharge him.
Watts said he was not condoning the father’s actions, neither was he going to imprison him for slapping the girl. However, what the acting Magistrate took issue with was what he called Felicien’s trend toward violence.
Referring to his criminal record, Watts spoke of an assault matter coming before the court as recently as March, as well as others which occurred previously where Felicien would have had fines imposed on him.
“You are demonstrating a bad trend, and it goes all the way back to 2003. You must realize there is some behaviour you must stop,” Watts stressed.
When the daughter was summoned and asked about what harm resulted from the slap, she told the court that her face had turned red.
The complainant, who lives in the United States, admitted that her father called to her three times before she chupsed. It was then that he slapped her. She also admitted that he had spoken to her about sucking her teeth previously.
“So what prompted you to go to the police?” Watts questioned.
The girl said it was her 28-year-old sister who took her to the police.
Watts then spoke to her about honouring her parents and the promise that accompanies that, according to the Bible. He encouraged her not to follow anyone to be disrespectful to her father, no matter what type of father he is.
He also reminded Felicien that while he had slapped the girl because she was “hard ears”, he too would receive a slap but “from a court” if he does not get his act together.
Felicien was reprimanded and discharged.