August 29, 2008

Karate Instructor Acquitted of Abuse


By Hattie Brown Garrow

The Virginian-Pilot


Susan Bateman's karate students "looked forward to" an endurance technique requiring the pupils to go into a pushup position and take as many "taps" to the abdomen as they could stand.

That's what Bateman told Circuit Court Judge Westbrook Parker on Thursday during her four-hour trial . The instructor, a third- degree black belt, was accused of kicking an 11-year-old more than 200 times during a Nov. 7 lesson.

Parker acquitted Bateman of one felony count of child abuse and neglect after 10 people - students, parents, martial-arts colleagues and others - testified in her favor. He also ruled that Bateman was not guilty of a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Bateman's supporters applauded after the verdict was announced.

She said she will continue using the kicking technique because parents and students like it. "I'm just glad it's over," she said.

Bateman was teaching at the Suffolk dojo of Jeff Bateman's Isshinkan Academy of Martial Arts that day . Her husband runs the academy. Police said Susan Bateman issued a challenge to students, telling them that pupils in the Hampton dojo had taken a certain number of kicks to the abdomen.

Bateman testified that she told students it was an optional exercise and that students could ask her to stop at any time.

Later in the trial, one pupil said he took 211 "taps" and was fine.

Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Wiser said the 11-year-old was injured after receiving 206 or 207 kicks, as well as an extra "flying side kick" at the end of class. The latter involves the kicker going airborne to deliver a push or blow, depending on the force used.

The boy testified that he sustained bruises and had blood in his urine over the next few days.

Bateman and the other instructors were justifying the kicks by saying the children "asked for it, so I continued to give it," Wiser said.

"I don't care how strong you are, that is criminal negligence," he added.

Parker said he viewed martial arts as a contact sport, so he couldn't find Bateman guilty of either charge.

He said he realized from testimony that the ultimate purpose of the exercise was to see how long the students could stay in a push- up position. "It's the mind over the pain," Parker said. "Not the kicks, but the push-ups."

Hattie Brown Garrow, (757) 222-5562,

[email protected]

the charge

A judge acquitted Susan Bateman of one felony count of child abuse and neglect for kicking an 11-year-old more than 200 times in the abdomen during a martial-arts exercise .

Originally published by BY HATTIE BROWN GARROW.

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