Judge Dean Dankelson sentenced a 27-year-old Joplin man this week to five years in prison for the abusive spanking of a 7-year-old girl.

Ryan D. Charles had pleaded guilty June 15 in Jasper County Circuit Court to a felony count of child abuse in a plea agreement calling for the five-year sentence. The judge accepted the plea deal at the defendant's sentencing hearing on Wednesday and assessed him the agreed-upon prison term.

Charles used a belt to discipline the girl in November 2018. The girl's mother noticed bruises on her daughter when she picked her up from his care the following day, and the girl told investigators he had "spanked" her several times, according to a probable-cause affidavit.

The affidavit states that Charles initially lied to police about the matter but made admissions in a subsequent interview.

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Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.