The question of whether paddling a youngster is child abuse likely will be decided by a jury.
The child-abuse case involving a Poynette pastor who paddled his son hard enough to cause bruises as a form of discipline is headed for trial.
Barry W. Barnett Jr., 43, stood mute Thursday on a charge of felony physical abuse of a child after he appeared at a preliminary hearing.
Judge Daniel George entered a not guilty plea for Barnett after he ruled that the case will continue, saying that cases must head to trial when there is conflicting evidence about whether a felony was committed.
"It is the jury that will have the ultimate decision in this case," George said.
Barnett allegedly used a paddle - described as two feet long, four inches wide and 3/4 inch thick - to strike the boy on the buttocks twice - once on each cheek - on June 4, according to a criminal complaint. Barnett struck hard enough to cause purplish bruises about four inches in width, the complaint stated.
A jury trial date has not been set.