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West Salem man accused of battering child

West Salem man accused of battering child

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Matthew Utecht

Matthew Utecht

A criminal complaint has been filed in La Crosse County Circuit Court against a 35-year-old West Salem man accused of slamming a child’s head against a toy box. Matthew J. Utecht faces a single felony count of physical abuse of a child/intentionally causing bodily harm.

According to the criminal complaint, the incident occurred June 13, 2020, at a West Salem residence. A woman told police said she was in another room when she heard loud screaming from the child, who was in the kitchen area. She said she went into the kitchen and saw a large laceration on the child’s head.

The woman told police that Utecht admitted to slamming the child’s head. She said Utecht became enraged after the child dumped a container with marijuana in the garbage. She said the child assumed the container had only garbage and didn’t know there was marijuana inside.

The complaint says the woman initially told police the child sustained the injury on his own. She said Utecht has a violent history and that she feared for her safety if she told medical staff the truth. The child told a social worker that Utecht “loves to beat me” but didn’t offer further detail.

The child’s laceration required two or three staples to close, according to the complaint.

Utecht has an initial court appearance set for April 15.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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