Greenfield resident admitted battering 4-year-old child

GREENFIELD — A Greenfield woman will spend two and a half years on probation after admitting to battering a child who kicked her pregnant belly.

Marissa VanMeter, 24, pleaded guilty this week in Hancock Circuit Court to a Level 6 felony count of battery with moderate bodily injury and was sentenced to two and a half years of probation, with the first six months on home arrest so she can care for her now 2-month-old infant. VanMeter was arrested in April after a young boy told police she slapped him while he was in her care. She was charged with battery on a child resulting in bodily injury, a Level 5 felony.

She faced a penalty of one to six years and up to $10,000 in fines but accepted a plea agreement for the lesser charge from Hancock County prosecutors.

Police began investigating VanMeter last February after the boy’s mother called to report she found a dark bruise on the right side of her child’s face when he returned home from being in VanMeter’s care. Investigators said the mark was consistent with a handprint.

The boy told police VanMeter had slapped him three or four times. The boy had been regularly staying with VanMeter at her home in the first block of West Osage Street in Greenfield at the time, police said.

The child’s mother, who contacted police after her son told her he’d been slapped, showed police text messages she exchanged with VanMeter in which VanMeter acknowledged she might have hit the child too hard, according to police reports.

When police spoke with VanMeter about the allegations, she told them she struck the boy twice because he was disobeying her, police said.

She told officers she was 32 weeks pregnant at the time of the incident, and she became concerned about the safety of her unborn child because the boy was scratching and kicking her, reports state.

At her sentencing hearing, VanMeter asked Judge Richard Culver to lift a no-contact order so she can see the boy, whom she hasn’t had contact with since the incident. She told Culver she’s heard the boy has asked to see her, and she’s seeing a therapist twice a week to learn to manage her anger.

“I’d do anything for him,” she said. “I’m doing everything I can to make myself a better person.”

Culver denied lifting the no-contact order Wednesday but said he would reconsider doing so at a later date.

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.