Niles woman gets probation for assaulting child

Published 2:08 pm Monday, March 25, 2024

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NILES — A Niles woman who hit her daughter with a wooden spoon was sentenced Monday to probation.


Mary Ann Leinen, 32, of Niles, pleaded guilty to assault with a dangerous weapon and third-degree child abuse and was sentenced to two years probation, credit for six days served and $726 in fines and costs.

The incident occurred Oct. 1, 2023 in Niles Township. Leinen hit her 12 year-old daughter with a spoon and also tied her leg to her daughter’s with a jump rope in an effort to keep her daughter from sneaking out to meet her boyfriend.

“This is one of the more sad cases I’ve seen,” defense attorney Kevin Mackin said. “It was a situation where poor behavior was met with poor behavior. She made a really poor decision as to how to discipline her child … It’s hard to say what a person should do when a child is willful.”

Mackin said that Leinen has been taking parenting classes.

“She’s trying to be a better parent,” he said. “Just because a child is willful, it’s not right to hit her.”

Leinen took full responsibility for her actions.

“I reacted instead of thinking about what I should do,” she said. “In the future, I will evaluate before I react. I’m very sorry for my actions. I’m just ready to be a mom to her again.”

Berrien County Trial Judge Jennifer Smith said it was good advice to think first before acting. “When you react out of anger, it’s not discipline,” she said. “It was a double whammy for you. You didn’t get the result you wanted and you’re here today. You can’t react out of anger, it doesn’t do anybody any good.”