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Illicit CP - May 2009
The Bay City Times, Michigan, 20 May 2009
Judge: trooper showed no remorse for hitting boy with belt
By Amy L. Payne
CARO - A Michigan State Police trooper will serve 30 days in jail and one year of probation for the Nov. 12 incident in which he hit an 8-year-old boy four times with a belt.
Patrick L. Sharkey, 56, of the Caro post, was also ordered to pay court costs and fees and to complete a court-approved anger management course.
Before Judge Kim David Glasby of Tuscola County District Court sentenced Sharkey, who has been a police officer for 32 years, he played a tape of a call Sharkey made after the incident to the 911 dispatcher who was on duty. The prosecution, Glasby said, had requested the call be made a part of the official court record.
In the call, Sharkey tells the dispatcher that he hit the child four times with a belt, saying the child's mother was too afraid of child abuse.
"Bottom line, the paddle straightened his little butt out to where he ain't gonna cause no problems tonight," Sharkey says on the tape.
Sharkey also tells the dispatcher that the child needs to be paddled every time he does something wrong.
The boy's mother, Melissa S. Ihrke, called 911 on Nov. 12 when the boy became assaultive, was hearing voices and was out of control, according to Assistant Attorney General Dennis J. Pheney, who prosecuted the case.
Ihrke, of Tuscola County's Ellington Township, declined to comment after the sentencing, but did say she was satisfied with the outcome.
Sharkey had said that the boy's mother had asked him to discipline the child. But Pheney said the tape makes it clear that the "beating" was not at the mother's request. Pheney said that even if the mother had asked Sharkey to discipline her child, it was Sharkey's responsibility to tell her that that was beyond the scope of his duties.
"This isn't a rookie," Pheney told the court. "He knew better than to do this."
"What I find remarkable ... is that the blame for the incident appears to be assessed to others, not to you, Mr. Sharkey," Glasby said.
Sharkey has blamed the dispatcher, the mental health authorities, the boy's mother and the boy himself, whom he called "defiant" and a "little jerk," Glasby said.
Glasby also said that Sharkey showed no remorse, that he was only sorry because of the trouble the incident got him into.
Sharkey had just one comment in court: "I apologize to the court," he said.
And though Sharkey has no prior record and a good reputation in the community, Sharkey said he took advantage of his position as a trooper.
"This was a beating," Glasby said. "And you have no more right to beat a child than I do to come off this bench and cane you."
Sharkey's Caro attorney, Amy Grace Gierhart, said that Sharkey was called on to act as a social worker and a psychiatrist, as well as a law enforcement officer in the November incident. And that since that time he has been seeing a counselor.
"I think the pressure that he's put on himself is probably immeasurable at this point," Gierhart said. "Trooper Sharkey knows that he has made a mistake."
Sharkey in April pleaded no contest to a charge of assault and battery. In exchange for his plea, a charge of misconduct in office - a felony - was dismissed. A plea of no contest is not an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for purposes of sentencing.
Sharkey has been suspended without pay for about three months. The outcome of his employment has not yet been decided.
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