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Sentencing for child assault case

Ten-year-old boy says incidents had huge impact on his life
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Two Colfax men charged with allegedly assaulting two young children were sentenced to a year in jail Friday in Placer County Superior Court. Mark Alan Swan, 30, and Jason Anthony Barr, 29, were each charged with two counts of cruelty to a child, two counts of false imprisonment, two counts of corporal injury to a child and two counts of assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, all misdemeanors. Swan and Barr pleaded no contest to all counts Tuesday. Barr had legal custody of the two children, a boy, 10, and a girl, 5, from November 2009 through February 2010 while his girlfriend was in custody. Swan moved in with Barr, the two children and the children’s grandmother, who lived on Mink Creek Drive in Colfax, according to testimony provided by Detective Mike Simmons of the Placer County Sheriff’s Department during a preliminary hearing in May. The children’s names and their family member’s last names are being withheld for their safety. During the time they were living together, Barr and Swan allegedly blew marijuana smoke in the boy’s face, laid on top of his chest during wrestling incidents, locked him in a car filled with marijuana smoke, duct taped his hands and mouth and applied Icy Hot ointment to several areas of his body including his genitals, according to preliminary hearing testimony. The two men also allegedly applied Icy Hot to the girl’s hip and washed her mouth out with soap. Swan, who was already on probation for a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge, moved out of the residence in February, hearing testimony stated. According to preliminary hearing testimony, the children’s grandmother documented marijuana, pipes and other drug paraphernalia in the home. The 10-year-old boy read a statement during the sentencing Friday explaining how the men’s alleged actions had impacted his life. “Because of you guys I don’t get to see my mom whenever I want to,” the boy said. “I have to change schools and make all new friends. I have to get used to a whole new house. This is all because of what you did to me.” Sheila, the children’s foster mother of five months, also read a statement in the courtroom. “When (the boy and girl) came to our home they were afraid of their own shadows,” Sheila said. “(The girl) would not eat dinner because she was so scared of life. (She) now eats dinner like a champ. She is no longer scared of life. She is happy and playful.” John, the children’s biological father, also read a statement during the sentencing. The defendants made no comment Friday. An original charge of torture, a felony, was dismissed because evidence showing great bodily injury was not available, according to prosecuting attorney Estelle Tansey. Swan and Barr must spend the first half of their jail sentence in custody and can then apply for alternative sentencing. They were also sentenced to four years probation and ordered to stay at least 100 yards away from the children, their new foster home and family, their schools, their child-care facilities and their vehicles. Each man must also pay $460 in fines. They must also complete 20 hours of community service with a non-profit organization of their choice. Judge Jeffrey Penney did not require the men to take a parenting class, but said they might have to in the future. “In the event that you somehow come into custody of a child … at that point you will be required to take part in a 52-week parenting program,” Penney said. Tansey said the sentencing agreement came about as a way to save the children from having to give testimony at several more trial dates. “To present the People’s case in a way that did justice to the evidence, (the children) really needed to take the stand,” Tansey said outside the courtroom Friday. “Those two very young children had been through a lot. Part of our decision in agreeing to a plea bargain was to spare them from possibly having to go through four cross examinations.” Auburn attorney Dan Koukol, who represented Barr, said the sentencing was fitting. “Based on the agreement we reached, I just literally feel it was an appropriate compromise,” Koukol said over the phone Friday. Jonathan Richter, Swan’s attorney, could not be reached for comment Friday. Tansey said she thinks it was appropriate for the children to see Swan and Barr get sentenced. “(The children) know that conduct was not acceptable, and the defendants pleaded guilty to it and were punished for it,” Tansey said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com