A Casper man heard one charge during Initial Appearances in Natrona County Circuit Court today.

John Gregory Buck, 44, was charged with child abuse, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

On Christmas Eve last year, a woman called the Hot Springs Sheriff's Office to report child abuse.

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According to court documents, she told officers that the child, born in 2009, was traveling from the Hot Springs to Casper with John Buck.

She said the child told her that Buck pulled over the vehicle, opened the rear driver's side door and ordered the child out. Buck cursed the child and took a green plastic and aluminum snow brush and began hitting his thighs and buttocks.

When the snow brush broke, Buck found a second snow brush and continued to hit the boy.

Documents state that after hearing the testimony from the reporting woman, a deputy took photographs of the child's bruising--which was still evident four days after the alleged abuse.

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The deputy noted several bruises on the child's left and right thighs.

On December 27, a Natrona County Sheriff's Officer was assigned the case.

The NC sheriff's officer noted that in the photographs, the child was still wearing underwear, covering his buttocks entirely. She also noted that the photographs did not contain a scale or other measuring device to denote the size of the bruising.

Court documents say she did note a long bruise on the child's left thigh that ran parallel with his femur.

In a written statement dated December 28, the child wrote a statement that repeated the story given by the initial reporting party. He wrote that Buck hit him about fifteen times before the snow brush broke, then another five times with the second snow brush.

In a forensic interview with the Children's Advocacy Project on Jan. 26, the child gave the same story.

He went on to report that in Casper, Buck's house was 59 degrees and that Buck had an aggressive dog.

The child said that Buck used religion and his Baptist beliefs to make the boy feel guilty. He stated that Buck had hit him in the past and that there were other times he had bruises.

On Jan. 12, the NC officer assigned to the case interviewed the woman who initially reported the abuse.

She told the officer that Buck had been asked to leave three different Baptist churches for "taking exception" to their teachings and interpretations. This before he started his own church in a living room.

According to her, before starting his own church, Buck listened to a pastor of a Baptist church in Arizona who believed that spanking children was appropriate discipline.

She said Buck disciplined using a bamboo paddle with holes that he ordered online, a leather belt, a fiberglass rod, or wooden spoons.

The investigating officer noted that on April 7, 2006, Buck was charged with kidnapping/false imprisonment and two counts of assault in Colorado. As the final disposition, all the charges were dismissed.

In his Initial Appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court today he pleaded not guilty to the charge of child abuse.

Assistant District Attorney Samuel Forshner recommended a $20,000 bond with no contact with the victim.

Buck asked that the judge consider letting him have visitation rights.

Collier denied his request and set bond at $15,000 cash or surety.

Buck will have a preliminary hearing in 10 days if he does not bond out, in 20 if he does.

If a judge believes he likely committed a crime, Buck will be bound over to District Court for trial.

Children's Advocacy Project in Casper

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