Belleview, Florida — On September 29, 2014, Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy, Julie Vowinkel, responded to Belleview Elementary School after a grandmother reported that her six-year-old grandson had been battered by his stepfather, John Hopkins, 33.
The boy told the deputy that on September 26, 2014, his step-father hit him in the back with a belt because he would not blow his nose.
According to reports, the bruise on the boy’s back was still visible and quite large – measuring two and a half inches wide — from one side of the boys back to the other. The boy told the deputy that after three (3) days, his back still hurts.
Deputy Vowinkel then visited the boy’s home, where she conducted an interview with both the mother and step-father.
The boy’s mother stated to the deputy that she was aware of the incident and severity of the bruise. The mother said that her son would not stop screaming and refused to go to bed, and when he was told to blow his nose, he refused. She said that is when Hopkins entered the boy’s room and “spanked” him with a belt.
Hopkins told the deputy that the boy is out of control and needs counseling. He said the boy kept squirming while he was trying to hit him with the belt, which caused him to strike the boy’s back.
After Hopkins was placed under arrest, he said, “He (meaning his step-son) swung on me, and I wasn’t going to have that.”
He also stated that he felt bad and claimed that the boy bruises easily.
Hopkins was charged with Cruelty Toward a Child-Aggravated Child Abuse.
He also has previous arrests for Possession of Cocaine (x2), Possession of Narcotics Equipment, DUI, and Violation of Probation.
Hopkins was released from jail on September 30, 2014, on $5,000 bond.
DCF investigators were notified of the situation and they responded to the boy’s home immediately.
The mother was not charged with any crime.