Shared from the 11/27/2018 Star Tribune eEdition

Charges: Dad whipped girl with branch, belt

Eden Prairie man freed from jail after teen moved to foster care.

An Eden Prairie man locked his teenage daughter in a bedroom and whipped her roughly 30 times with a tree branch and a belt, leaving bloody and bruised wounds over much of her body, according to felony charges and other court documents.

Craig D. Underwood II, 38, is charged in Hennepin County District Court with felony malicious punishment of a child. Underwood was jailed and then released last week in lieu of $18,000 bail. A message was left with his attorney seeking a response to the allegations.

Underwood has since lost his parental custody of the girl to Hennepin County on an interim basis. She is now in foster care. He and his wife retain custody of their four other children, who range in age from 11 to 17.

According to the criminal complaint and other court records:

The teen told a child-protection investigator that her father was upset that she came home from school on Nov. 15 with someone her family dislikes and that she was late for class.

She said he made her put on shorts, locked her in a bedroom, cut a branch off a tree and “hit her approximately 30 times with both the switch and a belt,” according to county child-protection filings.

The girl also told the investigator that her parents drink alcohol and are joined by her 17-year-old brother to smoke marijuana in front of the other children. She said her father drinks daily and has driven drunk with her in the vehicle.

The teen sent an e-mail on her school-issued laptop to child-protection officials that she “had bruises over most of her body” from the beating.

The other children told the investigator they get whipped with a belt or spanked with a hand.

Police were notified and met the girl that day in the driveway of the family’s home, where they saw the teen suffering from swollen hands, fresh lashing injuries, and bleeding and scrapes all up and down both legs. Paramedics on the scene treated her for numerous bruises and cuts all over her body.

The girl said her father beat her with a tree branch and a belt. Underwood drove up to the home as his daughter was speaking with officers.

He appeared hostile toward police and told them he had “every right to whoop her,” the charging document quoted him as saying. He acknowledged hitting her with the branch on her legs, buttocks and arms, as well as taking a belt to the girl.

Underwood put up resistance to being arrested, but was eventually arrested.

Several family members in the home were hostile to police and refused to let officers inside. The teen told police there were about 10 people living there.

A court-ordered search of the home by a police detective that night turned up a tree branch with black hairs “embedded/attached” that was in a laundry basket and covered by a blanket in the master bedroom.

Police also seized two belts and “several pieces of wood” that appeared to come from one or more branches.

Underwood’s criminal history in Minnesota includes convictions for domestic assault and drug possession.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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