Wis. boy's essay lands dad with child-abuse charge
6:54 PM CST, February 14, 2009
OREGON, Wis. - A father allegedly shot his 9-year-old son in the buttocks with a BB gun, a revelation that came to light after the boy wrote a school essay about the incident.
The essay referred to the "painful afternoon my Dad shot me with a BB gun." The boy wrote that his mother could hear him scream from the road, and called the experience "the most painful thing I ever felt in my life."
The elementary-school teacher turned the essay over to Dane County investigators.
David J. Peschl, 36, was charged Friday with one felony count of child abuse. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 6 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Peschl admitted to investigators that he shot the boy, the criminal complaint said. Peschl said he was trying to watch TV in his home in the southern Wisconsin town of Oregon but the boy was blocking his view and didn't move out of the way when asked to do so.
Peschl said he happened to be holding a BB gun, and he aimed at his son's left rear pocket because he thought that would be more padded, the complaint said.
"The defendant stated that the round hit (the 9-year-old) in the buttocks and he jumped somewhat and moved away from the TV," the complaint said.
Peschl told The Associated Press on Saturday evening he did fire the gun, but it was only "horseplay" and "a dumb mistake."
"It was not out of violence or anger or hatred. It was not a disciplinary action," he said. "It was horseplay. That's all I can say. It was not with any evil intent."
The shooting left a welt about the size of a dime, the complaint quoted a 17-year-old brother as saying.
The 9-year-old "yelped and yelled ouch or 'aagh' and began running around holding his butt," the teen said.
Peschl told AP he felt instant regret.
"I knew right away it was a stupid thing I did," he said. "I told my kids the only way I'm going to touch them is to kiss them, hug them, tickle them. I was very, I was not under the influence of anything. It was a very stupid decision."
He was released Friday on a signature bond and ordered not to threaten or engage in any acts of violence against his son. He was also ordered not to engage in physical discipline of any child.
He also has a 6-year-old son.
Peschl said he hadn't seen the essay his 9-year-old wrote, but from what police told him he suspected it might have included embellishments.
"It doesn't really seem like the terminology my son would use unless he was being helped write an essay," he said. "I don't know if a teacher was helping him and being, you know, elaborate in the storytelling."
Peschl was previously charged with child abuse in 2005. He was placed into the Deferred Prosecution program, which he successfully completed.
He declined to discuss the previous charge except to say that underwent anger-management and family counseling that helped him settle down.
"I love these boys more than anything in the world. My wife, my family are the most important thing in the world," he said. "This, it was a very dumb mistake."