STANTON — A father was sentenced to prison time recently for “hog-tying and beating” his 10-year-old son as a form of discipline.
Erik Kulkoski, 35, and Michelle Kulkoski, 39, of Stanton, were each charged with first- and second-degree child abuse. The charges alleged that Erik “caused serious physical and mental harm by hog-tying and beating the child” numerous times between July and August 2011, while Michelle failed to intervene.
Erik Kulkoski pleaded no contest in May of this year to second-degree child abuse. In exchange for Erik’s plea, criminal charges were dropped against Michelle Kulkoski. However, the case was also prosecuted in Montcalm County Probate Court, in which the Kulkoskis permanently lost parental rights of all three of their sons, who were removed from the parents’ care in August 2011.
The Kulkoskis will never be allowed to have parenting rights with their children again, according to Montcalm County Prosecutor Andrea Krause.
Erik Kulkoski was sentenced July 25 in 8th Judicial Circuit Court. Before sentencing, his attorney Michelle Lyons reminded Judge Suzanne Hoseth Kreeger of the letters of support the court received from family and friends of Erik Kulkoski.
“People know Mr. Kulkoski to be a very good person and a loving father,” Lyons said. “My client no longer has a relationship with his children and likely never will. I think anything this court does pales in comparison to what already happened. This is a man who has lost his children and will never have a relationship with them again.”
Kreeger noted that the Kulkoskis’ three children had special needs and that the parents had sought respite care and counseling from the Department of Human Services in the past. The judge also noted that Erik Kulkoski has no prior criminal history.
However, the judge still decided a sentence of 14 months to four years in prison was appropriate.
“When I look and read what his (the victim’s) statements have been … and the behaviors he is engaging in … certainly are consistent with a child who has been brutally victimized and abused,” Kreeger told Erik Kulkoski. “You had something that you did not afford your children and that was a good upbringing with no abuse. The type of abuse that is described in his psychological evaluation is absolutely heartbreaking and simply will not be tolerated in our community. You crossed the line with respect to discipline.”