A man who was set to face trial Monday on a felony child abuse charge instead elected to enter a guilty plea as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

David Leroy Lang, 58, pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse before District Judge Daniel Forgey. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

In exchange for his guilty plea, Assistant District Attorney Mike Schafer said the state intends to recommend that Lang receive first-time offender treatment and be placed on a one- to three-year term of probation. Should Forgey decide to go along with the deal and grant Lang first-offender status, proceedings would be deferred and Lang would not be convicted of the crime, so long as he successfully completes the probationary term.

Charging documents filed in the case alleged that Lang spanked a child in September 2017. The child was at a daycare run by Lang's wife.

Lang told a detective that the victim, who would have been two or three years old at the time, had been "beating" another child with a toy, and continued to do so despite Lang's admonitions. So, Lang said, he spanked the child on the backside one time and put him in the corner. After the child continued to misbehave, Lang said, he spanked him once more and told him to sit on the couch.

"It made me cry, because it was bruised a little bit," Lang said of the child's buttocks after the spankings.

In court Monday, Lang admitted that he "swatted" the child's rear end.

"I had asked him twice to quit hitting another child with a toy, then he did it a third time. So I swatted him twice and put him in time-out," Lang told the court.

Speaking about the plea agreement during Monday's hearing, Schafer noted that the defense had filed a motion to prevent photographs of the boy's injuries from being admitted during trial, which had been set to begin that day.

Schafer added that during a forensic interview at the Children's Advocacy Project, the child claimed he was hurt after sliding down stairs at the house where the daycare operated.

Two expert witnesses came to the conclusion that the injuries were consistent with the child having slid down stairs. Lang's wife, who operated the daycare, sent the victim's mother a text message on Sept. 19, telling her that the victim's backside was red because the child was sliding down a set of stairs in the basement of the house.

Considering all the factors working against the prosecution, Schafer told Forgey that he felt the plea agreement is appropriate.

"We don't believe he had the right to spank the child in the first place," Schafer said. He said the incident was still reckless on Lang's part.

Defense attorney Joseph Cole told the court that he had a strong defense to the charge.

Lang was charged and convicted in Grand Island, Nebraska in 2003 on a fourth-degree child abuse charge after he allegedly hit his live-in girlfriend's 10-year-old child over the head several times for coming home late. The child suffered a lump on the head, according to court papers.

Lang remains free on bond pending sentencing.

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