EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — A former Eau Claire man accused of forcing 12- and 13-year-old children to stand near a wall for hours at a time as a form of punishment will sentenced July 19.
Juan J. Castro, 34, now of Madison, pleaded no contest Friday in Eau Claire County Court to three felony counts of mental harm to a child.
A pre-sentence investigation by the state Department of Corrections was ordered by Judge Emily Long.
Castro could be sentenced to up to 22 years in prison.
According to the criminal complaint:
A woman told police she and Castro — her boyfriend — lived at the Sessions Street residence with her three children and his two children.
The woman said Castro administered “grounded to the wall” to the children, which was a punishment for offenses such as lying, bad grades or talking back.
A child subjected to this punishment would get up in the morning, eat breakfast, brush his or her teeth and then go to the living room.
Once there, the child would have to stand inches from the wall with feet separated and arms behind the back.
The child would remain in that position all morning with one three-minute bathroom break.
After a 10-minute lunch, the child would have to return to the wall for the afternoon with another three-minute bathroom break.
After a 10-minute dinner break, the child would return to the wall until bedtime at 8 p.m.
The woman said all five children had been subjected to this punishment, but some were grounded more than others.
The woman said this punishment could last weeks at a time for a child.
A 12-year-old boy told police his feet, spine and tailbone would hurt during these grounding sessions.
On one occasion, the boy said, Castro put his hand around his neck to prevent him from yelling.
A 13-year-old boy said his feet and legs hurt during his grounding sessions.
Castro told police he administered grounding sessions near a wall for the children, but they lasted for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
Castro said a child could be sent to the wall multiple times in one day but never had to stand at the wall all day.
Castro said this punishment was usually for lying.
“I’m pretty sure it’s not the right thing to do, to have them go to the wall,” he said of the punishment.
Castro said he needs help for when he explodes and for his alcohol use.