EXCLUSIVE REPORT: A judge in Hackensack yesterday sentenced a Rutherford man who beat his 13-year old daughter with a karate stick, broomstick and belt to 364 days in the Bergen County Jail, despite pleas from the defense attorney to “heal the family.”
Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian said he was sentencing Chan Ho Kim “in accordance with the law,” while noting that prosecutors dropped more serious charges — ostensibly to avoid having the girl endure a trial.
Kim’s wife came to court to support him, and his pastor spoke on his behalf. The family also presented a letter from his daughter, who wrote: “Whenever I think about my father going to jail, it brings me down. I knew he did something bad.”
Defense attorney Frank L. Migliorino said his client “made a terrible mistake, [but] does he have to go to jail?”
“When did corporal punishment turn into a timeout, go to your room, with your I-phone and a multiplicity of games?” he asked Jerejian.
The girl was “cutting class, lying, and drinking,” Migliorino told the judge. “He was trying to save his daughter from becoming one of the people who come before you all too often.
“He was very harsh, but he wasn’t hateful,” Migliorino said. “He’s a father. He’s not a terrible man. He just made a terrible mistake.”
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Dion Findley said the beating had nothing to do with discipline.
“This is not about his love for his daughter,” he said. “This is about rage – not just frustration, rage.”
After Kim’s daughter was caught smoking at school in October, 2012, he “had enough,” the prosecutor said. “He brought her to the basement, where there was a single light bulb, and began hitting her numerous times with a karate stick.
“She was curled up in a corner. The karate stick broke,” Findley said. “He wasn’t done — he got a broomstick and continued beating her.
“The broomstick broke. Then he got a belt and continued.”
At some point during the beating, he smashed the lone lightbulb in the basement, said Findley ( bottom photo, left ). So Kim went upstairs and got a replacement.
While he was gone, the girl dialed 911 and left the phone on.
Dispatchers recorded what happened when Kim returned.
“The local police can literally hear her screaming for her life,” the prosecutor said. “They are the screams of a child who believed she was going to die that day.”
Kim told the judge he hoped for leniency because he’s been complying with all the requirements of state Division of Youth and Family Services, including providing community service.
Putting him behind bars would hurt because he is the sole supporter of his family, Kim, 49, said through an interpreter.
His face contorted with emotion as he told Jerejian it was the first time he’d ever administered corporal punishment to the girl.
“My daughter behaved wrongly sometimes, and I disciplined her,” Kim said. “On October 5, she told me she was going to leave the house and she kicked me. I wanted to make her go the right way — that’s why I disciplined her. I love my daughter and I could not give up.
“How can I give up my daughter that I love so much?”
Findley, however, the girl said she submitted a hand-written letter at the beginning of the case that was quite different from the typewritten statement presented in court yesterday.
In it, “she indicates there was a time, on the second day of school, that [Kim] hit her for lying to him about being at Burger King instead of somewhere else.
“Judge, this is what the endangering statue was intended for. It’s not [a] smack with a wooden spoon.”
Jerejian said jail time was necessary. He also sentenced Kim to four years’ probation after his release, along with continued counseling from the Audrey Hepburn House, monitoring by DYFS and compliance with all of the state agency’s requirements.
“I’m not sure this is an isolated incident,” the judge said.
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