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Orange County

Felony Is Added in Abuse Case

Court: L.A. County sheriff's sergeant and his wife, a principal, accused of child endangerment.

April 18, 2002|STUART PFEIFER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Orange County prosecutors filed a felony charge Wednesday against a Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant and his wife, a school principal, who were charged last year with abusing their teen-age son.

Prosecutors alleged in court documents that sheriff's Sgt. Grady Machnick beat and pushed his 14-year-old son and that his wife, Deborah, made her stepson pose for nude photographs and smeared dog feces on his backpack.

The couple was scheduled to stand trial Monday on a misdemeanor charge, but prosecutors decided the conduct was serious enough to support a felony charge, said Tori Richards, a district attorney spokeswoman.

Prosecutors accused the couple of conspiracy to commit child endangerment, a felony that carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. In court documents, prosecutors also accused the couple of forcing the boy to sleep on a dog mat outside their Yorba Linda home. Locked out of the house, the boy had to use a restroom at a neighborhood park.

"We decided this case had to be a felony because their conduct was so egregious," Richards said.

Neither the Machnicks nor their attorneys could be reached for comment. An attorney for Grady Machnick has denied that his client abused the boy, saying any actions were appropriate discipline.

Prosecutors said the boy was abused between 1997 and 2001 as punishment for not finishing homework or for returning home late from school.

Grady Machnick, 45, and his wife, 46, are scheduled to appear in court Thursday morning to face the felony charge.

Deborah Machnick, 46, was working as principal of Cyrus J. Morris Elementary School in Walnut when the allegations surfaced. Her husband worked at the Los Angeles County Jail.

The boy "was placed in a very loving foster home and he's doing very well," Richards said.

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