A West Salem man was charged Thursday in a June 2020 incident of child abuse.
Matthew Utecht, 35, appeared in La Crosse County Circuit court on the charge of physical abuse of a child (intentionally causing bodily harm).
According to the criminal complaint, Utecht, who has previously been charged with domestic abuse and bail jumping, slammed a child’s head into a toy box on June 13, 2020, leaving the victim with a laceration requiring staples.
A woman in the household says she was in another room and heard screaming and crying coming from the kitchen. Utecht admitted to slamming the child’s head into the toy box after becoming angry at the child for discarding marijuana that Utecht had put in a cereal bowl. The woman took the child to the hospital but told staff the child had fallen and hit his head, telling police she was afraid to tell the truth due to Utecht’s violent actions.
A young family member who did not witness the incident told investigators Utecht was verbally abusive to the minors in the family and threatened to “beat their ass.” Another child said Utecht had previously kicked, punched and slapped him and stated, “He loves to beat me.” The child also stated Utecht “threw (the victim) into the toy box and cracked his head open,” per the criminal complaint.
Utecht was given a signature bond of $1,000 by Judge Ramona Gonzalez.
Emily Pyrek can be reached at email@example.com.