Men accused of battery on children

HANCOCK COUNTY — Two local men were arrested this week, in unrelated criminal cases, after being accused of child abuse, court records show.

The alleged victims in both cases are younger than 14, records show, and each told police they were hurt after having a disagreement with an adult who was supposed to be caring for them.

Man accused of choking

Francis Bunten
Francis Bunten

A Cumberland foster father is accused of choking a young boy who was staying with him, prompting the child to run across the street to ask a neighbor to call 911, court documents state.

Prosecutors have filed a Level 5 felony count of domestic battery against 57-year-old Francis Bunten, 1304 Buckley Court, Indianapolis. The boy told police Bunten put him in a chokehold and kneed him in the face after the child refused to take his hands out of his pockets, court documents state.

Officers were called to Bunten’s home in late September after the boy reported the incident, according to court documents.

The boy said his feet came off the ground while Bunten had a hold of him, and he could not breathe, court documents state. The boy said he kicked at Bunten, trying to get the man to put him down, court documents state.

After Bunten put the boy down, he kneed the child in the face, court documents state.

When officers arrived on the scene, they noticed redness around the child’s throat and a mark on his face along his right cheekbone, according to police reports.

Bunten admitted to having argued with the boy on the day of the incident after the child had gotten into trouble and started throwing a tantrum, he said. During their exchange, Bunten told the child to take his hands out of his pockets because it was disrespectful, Bunten told police.

Police asked Bunten if he’d choked the boy or if he could explain the redness on the boy’s face and neck, and Bunten refused to answer, court documents state.

Representatives from the Indiana Department of Child Services were called to Bunten’s home, and the child was removed from the man’s care, court documents state.

During a court appearance this week, Bunten pleaded not guilty to the allegations. He was released from jail on a $1,000 cash bond.

Bunten is expected back in court again on Nov. 29.

Man accused of battery

James Wood
James Wood

A New Palestine man faces a battery charge after a girl reported she’d been kicked in the head by the man while visiting his home, court documents state.

James Wood, 38, 7892 W. County Road 300S, New Palestine, faces a Level 5 felony count of battery. Wood was charged after a girl told police Wood kicked her in the head and dragged her across a room after she and another child started arguing over who got to use a gaming console, court documents state.

In mid September, sheriff’s deputies and representatives from the Indiana Department of Child Services were called to Hancock Regional Hospital after a woman brought her daughter there to be examined by a doctor.

The girl said Wood grabbed her and dragged her through his living room, kicking her in the back of the head in the process, court documents state. The girl told officers she wasn’t sure if Wood had kicked her by accident or on purpose.

The child’s mother told investigators child services has been involved in the past, and she was “scared what (Wood) might do once he finds out law enforcement was contacted” again, court documents state.

The girl was released from the hospital after doctors determined she was not injured, court documents state.

When Wood was questioned by police, he denied harming the girl, saying it was the two children who got physical with each other. The man admitted he had grabbed the girl while trying to get her to stop fighting, court documents state.

Wood was arrested Tuesday and had since been released from jail on a $1,000 cash bond.

His next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 28.

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or