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Posted on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:56 a.m.

Man faces 10 years in prison for beating boy who refused to eat banana

By Kyle Feldscher

A Pittsfield Township man could face 10 years in prison when he's sentenced Thursday for beating a young boy with a belt after the boy refused to eat a banana.


Paul Magala

Courtesy of WCSO

Paul Magala, 37, pleaded guilty on Jan. 10 to one charge of second-degree child abuse in exchange for one charge of third-degree child abuse being dropped at his sentencing hearing on Thursday. Magala was arrested and charged in November on the two charges before being jailed in Washtenaw County on a $75,000 bond.

Pittsfield Township police did not immediately release details of the incident but new information came to light after received a search warrant affidavit from the case.

The affidavit was received through a Freedom Of Information Act earlier this month. In it, Pittsfield Township police Detective Michael Robinson details a Dec. 30, 2011, incident when Magala repeatedly whipped a boy with a belt.

Robinson writes Child Protective Services alerted him to the case on Nov. 5 after a CPS worker spoke with a Wisconsin woman. Robinson then contacted the woman, who had taken a video of Magala beating the boy on Dec. 30, 2011.

According to the affidavit, the woman drove Magala and the boy to an apartment on that date.

“... They gave (the boy) a banana to eat but that (the boy) didn’t want to eat it because it was too ripe,” the affidavit stated.

Magala whipped the boy after discovering the uneaten banana, the affidavit says.

The woman videotaped the beating with her camera and told Robinson it went on between seven and 10 minutes. Magala hit the boy at least 14 times during the course of the video.

Magala lectured the boy as he beat him, yelling over his screams, according to the affidavit. The boy was in a seated position as Magala struck him numerous times in the legs before knocking him to the ground with a strike to the face.

According to a Child Protective Services law enforcement notification included in the affidavit, there was a past history of abuse between Magala and the boy.

Police were contacted about the Dec. 30, 2011, incident on Nov. 5, 2012. Magala was arrested two days later. Police took four black belts from the apartment during the search, conducted that same day.

Magala is still lodged at the Washtenaw County Jail until his sentencing hearing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in front of Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge David Swartz. The maximum punishment for second-degree child abuse is 10 years in prison.

A message left with Magala’s lawyer, Erika Julien, was not returned.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Sat, Feb 2, 2013 : 3:53 a.m.

For those already enraged by this story, be sure to read today's follow-up news report regarding sentencing yesterday. Know that the 15 more days that Judge Melinda Morris ordered actually resulted in less than 16 more hours in jail for Mr. Magala.. Mr. Magala was released less than 16 hours after sentencing. He walked out of jail as a convicted felon after only serving 85 days for beating a child senselessly. Any doubt about this fact can be verify by calling the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office at 734-971-8400. What is wrong with this picture? Perhaps this judge has never been been defenseless, pleading for mercy and on the receiving end of such a beating, but is that necessary to understand what horror such behavior causes a child -- lifelong scars. Who was this judge protecting? The convicted criminal or the victim? Whose best interest was considered? Is this child's life not worth more than an 85 day stay in a county jail when the maximum sentence was a maximum of 4 years (4 because the incident occurred before the statue increased to 10 years). This child's hell will be this judge's hell one day when she goes before our true judge. Mr. Magala's actions were criminal and sinful. As for Melinda Morris's ruling, it was simply sinful.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 4:21 a.m.

Melinda Morris is a bad joke of a judge, she always favors the criminals.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:38 a.m.

This happened in December of 2011. He was arrested in November of 2012. Where the heck is this woman? Why didn't she stop him and why isn't she being charged as an accomplice? She took a video? Why did it take so long for this to come to light?


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 2:05 a.m.

what was the extent of the child's injury's?


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

I don't follow - what was the relationship between the man and the boy? Were they strangers, was one the guardian, was it his son - legal or biological?

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

Jack - Should I define the relationship in the story, it will out this child as being abused by someone. It will take seconds for people to know about one of the most painful things that could happen to someone. For an adult, it's different - most of us are mature enough to be able to deal with that. But, a child? I cannot bring myself to do that. What this man did is newsworthy and it's an important, real story about child abuse. But, I do not believe this story should follow this boy around for his entire life, should anyone choose to Google him. Please consider the fact that you're asking me to define this man's relationship to the victim and how easy it would be to find out who this boy is afterward. That's not fair to the boy. It's something I take extremely seriously.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 11:31 p.m.

This us one of the things I find so frustrating about the stories are so scanty ans incomplete. There is absolutely no description of the relationship between the boy and these people. No one is asking for names, just some minimally sensible reporting.

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

We do not identify the victims of sexual crimes or juveniles who are the victims of crimes. That is our policy.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:33 p.m.

Not including it seems like a weird attempt to protect his identity but it's one of the main facts of the story.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:38 p.m.

Absolutely disgusting. It must be very difficult to have to report on stories like this one.

Sandra Samons

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

I agree with all the previous comments, but wonder if I missed something. Where were the boy's parents? How old was the boy? Why was he in the care of this monster? Didn't this poor child have anyone to turn to? Wasn't he in school? And if he was, didn't any of his teachers see evidence of abuse? They are legally obligated to report it even if they just suspect it. If all these things were reported in a previous story that I missed, I wish there had been a link to the previous report. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would have liked the background.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

You should certainly comment on whether or not it was HIS son.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

Kyle, you are doing the right thing. I just hope this boy is getting the love and therapy that he desperately needs and deserves.

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

Sandra- I have answers to a few of those questions, but in the interest of keeping the identity of the boy out of the news, I decided against putting them in the story. I take protecting the identity of juveniles - especially victims - seriously.

Elizabeth Drumright

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

How in the heck do you video tap something like this and not stop what your taping and try to stop the abuse? My question is when are charges going to be brought up against the woman. Something is so wrong with this.


Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 6:43 a.m.

Seriously! She stood there and video taped the incident and nothing happened for almost a year? She should have taken that video straight to the police last December!! Go Navy ... your response is disgusting.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

Well, GoNavy A person, male or female, tough or not, has a moral obligation to help a child in a situation like this, if only to call 911 or do something to distract the abuser. But to just stand there & tape the abuse is outrageous. Your reply should be very disturbing and very sad to most people.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 6:01 p.m.

Are you serious? You're going to charge this woman for not confronting a violent man? You must be one tough woman, skilled in the art of Krav Maga and armed with mace and a pistol. That, or you're full of something - not sure what, however.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

I too was horrified when I realized that it was nearly a year before this was reported. Please tell me this is a typo. And I agree with a previous comment about the woman who recorded this, why didn't use her phone to immediately call the police. Was she investigated too? Something seems fishy there.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

This is kinda irrelevant, but I wounder how old the boy was.Regardless, put him away anyone who beats a kid over a banana shouldn't be walking around free

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

tdw- That information was not included in the search warrant affidavit and I'd be hesitant to print it regardless - I do as much as I can to avoid identifying juveniles.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

This woman videotaped a beating that lasted 7-10 minutes and did nothing to intervene? Perhaps a better use for that phone would have been to call the police while this was going on. And the incident occurred in Dec of 2011 but wasn't reported to police until Nov of 2012---who knows what that poor child has endured in those 11 months. My hope is that this man serves every single one of those 10 years and this young boy is now in safe and loving home.

Susan Ursus

Thu, Jan 31, 2013 : 12:39 a.m.

Jeez, can't we cut this woman some slack? She was probably afraid of the guy.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

Exactly my thoughts, what was she thinking of? That taking photos of a beating was more important than helping stop the beating? Where was her common sense? She should be charged as an accessory to this terrible abuse.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

you make some excellent points.


Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

When he gets to prison,they better put him in isolation for all the time he is there. The cons really despise child abusers and if left in general population,well his stay will be real short

Michelle Pierson

Wed, Jan 30, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

I hope this doesn't slip through the cracks! The boy is probably scared. I hope the child can be supported and loved so that he can find the courage within himself to stay strong, and productive.