An Eagan man has been charged with hitting a 13-year-old child repeatedly with a belt on the chest and arms, causing the child to flee his home in the middle of the night.
Duane Robbins, 56, is charged with malicious punishment of a child, a gross misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.
According to the criminal complaint, Eagan police were called to a home in the 3300 block of Coachman Road just after 5:30 a.m. Oct. 25 to investigate a report of a missing person.
Officers met with Robbins and the child’s mother, who said her son had disappeared. Robbins told police that he had “taken his belt to” the child after discovering that the boy had been “expressing his love and talking in a sexual manner” to a classmate online the night before, according to the complaint.
Robbins told police that he folded the belt over into a strap and struck the child at least a dozen times on his chest and arms because he had “reached his breaking point,” the complaint charges. He told police, “I put some marks on him because I was hitting him with a belt,” according to the complaint.
The boy’s mother said she told the child to sleep on the living-room couch that evening. When she woke up the next morning, the child was missing. She said he had been wearing pajama pants with no shirt or shoes when she last saw him.
Police tracked down the child, who admitted that he left in the middle of the night after Robbins punished him. He told police that Robbins had whipped him with the belt on his arms, legs and chest, and officers noted marks on the victim.
Robbins has been released from custody on bond and on his promise not to contact the victim. An omnibus hearing in his case is scheduled Jan. 22 in Dakota County District Court in Hastings.