Florida sheriff sees ‘no crime’ committed by school principal caught spanking child with paddle, report says


WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT

A local Florida sheriff has said he “saw no crime being committed” by the elementary school principal captured on video using a paddle to spank a 6-year-old girl allegedly for causing damage to a computer, according to a local report. 

Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden told local news station NBC 2 he saw the now-viral video of Central Elementary School Principal Melissa Carter whacking the child with a paddle, but said he believed the footage did not show the commission of a crime. He also noted that the case determination “is up to the State Attorney.”

Clewiston Police Department is investigating the allegations and the State Attorney’s office will determine whether or not to charge Carter, who has since been placed on administrative leave, according to the report. 

A spokesperson for the State Attorney’s Office’s Twentieth Judicial Circuit told Fox News on Friday that the Clewiston Police Department is investigating the incident and would submit their investigation for review. The police department told Fox News it “takes all matters of child welfare seriously and remains committed to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community.”

“The Clewiston Police Department is working diligently to ensure that the rights of all parties in this matter are preserved,” the department said in a press release at the time. 

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office did not respond to Fox News’ requests seeking comment. 

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A police report filed against Carter and a school clerk describes how authorities were notified on April 13 that the child had been disciplined by Carter and the clerk while at school. According to WINK-TV, the elementary school contacted the child’s mother and said the girl damaged a computer, which would cost approximately $50 to fix. 

A Florida elementary school principal has reportedly been placed on administrative leave as authorities investigate whether or not to charge her for allegedly spanking a student with a paddle

A Florida elementary school principal has reportedly been placed on administrative leave as authorities investigate whether or not to charge her for allegedly spanking a student with a paddle (Probinsky & Cole)

The police report describes how the school clerk said during the phone call that “the school had a small paddle that they could spank [redacted] with.” The school clerk told the woman she and a deputy sheriff would have to be there to supervise, according to the news station and the police report. 

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But the mother, who speaks Spanish as a first language, did not understand, according to the report. When she arrived at the school, the woman was led into Carter’s office, where Carter and the clerk were present but a deputy was not, according to WINK. 

“My daughter was already in the office,” the woman told WINK. “The principal started to scream.”

After realizing she and her daughter were alone with the school administrators and that there were no cameras present, the mother began recording the spanking on her cellphone, the report states. 

“Nobody would have believed me,” she told WINK. “I sacrificed my daughter, so all parents can realize what’s happening in this school.”

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The woman’s lawyer, Brent Probinksy, told NBC 2 his client is undocumented and fears deportation. Probinsky told the news station: “She was confused as to her rights, what she should do…the mother didn’t know if they had a right to paddle her.”

Corporal punishment has been banned in Hendry County and is prohibited by the school district, NBC 2 and WINK reported. 

According to WINK, Hendry County School District has not commented on the matter. 

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