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Published: Wednesday, 10/1/2003

Dad cleared of forcing daughters to walk to school

ADRIAN - Felony child-abuse charges were dropped Monday against a Palmyra father who was accused of forcing his children to walk nearly five miles to school.

Judge Harvey Koselka in Lenawee County Circuit Court dismissed two counts of second-degree child abuse against Jason Betz, 31, at the county prosecutor's request. The judge said the prosecutor's office indicated it would have problems proving its case.

Assistant Prosecutor Karen Tate, who was handling the case, could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Betz was arrested in March after the Michigan State Police were called to busy U.S. 223 where two young girls were walking to school. Trooper Paul Royal said the girls, ages 7 and 10, told police they were walking the 4.8 miles to Blissfield Elementary because they had missed the school bus that morning, and their father told them to walk.

Mr. Betz, who had a restricted license at that time because of a drunken-driving charge, denied that his daughters woke him.

Mr. Betz, who was a captain in the Palmyra Township volunteer fire department, was also placed on a suspension by the township board pending the outcome of his case.

Township Clerk Richard Jackson, who learned of the dismissed charges yesterday, said the board likely will review the case at its meeting tomorrow.

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