Child abuser gets 30 days in jail

A former local youth pastor apologized to a 3-year-old girl, whose leg he admitted breaking, before heading off to jail for 30 days.
Becky Vargo
Jun 24, 2014

“I offer my deepest apologies — to not just (her), but to her entire family,” said 33-year-old Matthew Fisher during his sentencing Monday afternoon in Ottawa County Circuit Court on a second-degree child abuse charge. “I take full responsibility for it.”

Police said the Grand Haven man “did cause serious physical harm to a child by using unreasonable force on the child’s leg.”

The child is the daughter of Fisher’s girlfriend.

The child’s father, Mike Kline, gave a victim’s statement at the sentencing. He said his daughter was afraid to talk to anybody about what happened in early February.

“She thought she was in trouble,” Kline told Judge Ed Post.

When she realized that wasn’t the case, the girl said that Fisher twisted her leg.

Kline said the girl is nearly fully recovered physically. However, when she plays with dolls, she refers to the monster named “Matt.”

“She would take a doll’s leg and twist it,” Kline said.

The child had a cast from the top of her leg to the tip of her toes for four weeks, her father said. At night, she would wake up and yell for her mommy and daddy, he said.

Kline asked for help paying the child’s counseling bills and unpaid medical bills, and compensation for his unpaid time taken off work.

“I don’t know how a person could do this to such an innocent 3-year-old kid,” Kline added.

Post said he took note that Fisher had no previous criminal history.

“I believe you did not intend to cause this particular injury,” the judge said. “I do believe this occurred because of a violent act on your part.”

In addition to the jail time, Post sentenced Fisher to one year of probation, 100 hours of community service, anger management counseling, $2,500 restitution and ongoing medical bills. Fisher was also ordered to have no contact with the victim unless it was approved through Family Court.

A Family Court spokesperson said Fisher has two neglect/abuse cases in the “dispositional stage.”

Officials from the First Presbyterian Church of Grand Haven previously confirmed Fisher was a youth pastor at the church for several years, but had left employment there more than two years ago.

Comments

Tri-cities realist

Why bring up his former employer, unless the Trib is going to detail every former employer of every criminal?

VanX

When a person is a church pastor they will always be held to a higher standard, especially here in Grand Haven. That's the way it is and that's the way it should be. When a person who has been trusted in the past to supervise and teach people's kids is convicted of child abuse by breaking the leg of a 3-year old, I'd say that's newsworthy. 30 days in jail is a fraction of what this ex-Presbyterian minister deserves.

Tri-cities realist

My intent was not to infer that this wasn't newsworthy. I was just pointing out that the Trib has a history of pointing out criminal's or alleged criminal's relationship to a church, but usually not other places of employment.

And I agree, these criminals are getting sentences which are not severe enough.

Jenn61

I agree the paper usually brings up a bunch of nonsense, but in this case if this guy is a child abuser formally working with children at the church the parents should know so they can have their radar up in case he did something while employed there, which he probably did. Regardless of what his intent was of "this particular injury" he intended to hurt this little girl. The fact that he only got 30 days in jail is an injustice. This little girl will live with the scars of what he did to her for life. My bet Fisher has harmed in the past and will do so again. And what does "contact with her approved through Family Court" mean? The mother is still involved with the man? Can't fix stupid.

GH resident

Jenn, your right, he intended to hurt this little girl, and you have to use consinserable force to break someones leg. I don't believe for one minute that he has not done this before.....As for your question is the mother still involved with him, considering she just had his child, I bet that is a yes.

momf3ngh

First Pres better review their hiring procedures. They have certainly had issues with their staff these past few years.

VanX

Has the same minister been at the church during all the controversies?

goodshepard

I know the Judge has sentencing guidelines to follow but 30 days would be on the low end of the guidelines. I really think he deserves a much higher jail sentence. In fact, he deserves to be in prison not jail. The criminal justice system is so messed up, but so is society. The physical scars will heal on this little girl but she already displays deep psychological issues that may never heal.

Just a Thought

OH and this just in .... the PTA embezzler only gets 1 whole whopping year of probation, but the child abuser gets only 30 days in jail!?!? On top of that, the wife abuser got 270 days in jail ... what a crock this system is!

truthhurts

thats exactly what I thought. Messed up. It should be this crime = this time, no special consideration for circumstances. thats fair. Not to mention the child molesters getting longer sentences than murders! Both are equally bad, and both should carry a death penalty.

owell

Front page of the website is demoralizing. What a bunch of great guys and what a wonderful system we have to protect them.

truthhurts

no to mention the released murderer in GR that murdered again after being released from prison after 20 some years...FOR MURDER...i don't get it. The system does not work, to many hands in the pot.

zwesterhouse

Well his pastoral career is over and happy for that. He will pay the price now. His only options for employment now is ---- "The Factory" He will now get to work for a temp service and get abused by other disgruntled temps. He will get low pay, no benefits, mandatory overtime and will get cussed out daily. He's in a serious pickle - and I don't feel one bit sorry for him. So many pastors these days lack personal integrity. They are in ministry for the flexible schedules. Clergy work is nothing like factory work. Clergy work is easy - air conditioned. You can tell lies and get away with it and go to another church in most cases. Act passive aggressive. Sorry got nothing good say about pastors - Had seen a real decent families and youth mistreated and burned out of a church in Robinson Township by pastors and deacons who are only a good ole boys club.

Mom of teens

He's self employed. Does wood working. There should be some kind of registry for child abusers...kind of like sex offenders.

LIAMD

Why yes VanX, I believe the same head pastor has been presiding over FPC. It seems like First Presbyterian Church is constantly in the news with one criminal after another in positions of leadership and almost always involves kids which is especially heinous and indefensible.

JimmyJazz

I would love to Jazz this pervert up.

rukidding

I absolutely agree that this sick individual deserves any all that we can pile on his butt. I just want to mention that this is not a member of the clergy, he is not ordained, and he is a glorified Sunday School teacher or Youth Pastor. It doesn't change anything except there is such a significant distinction between the two and many comments have mentioned him as a member of the clergy; he is most assuredly not!

Lanivan

And none of the lineup on todays' website appear to fit the profile of the stereotyped criminal - gang members, illegal immigrants, people of color, repeat, hardened criminals. They'll all serve some sort of jail/prison term. But no other country incarcerates a higher percentage of it's population than the US - so now what?

Gwen66

If this guy had a drug offense we would lock him up and throw away the key. Makes more sense to do that with a child abuser. The profile you mention isn't going to be found in our prestige tri-cities area.

LIAMD

I couldn't agree more 'ruk', nothing more than a glorified Sunday school teacher and NOT a member of clergy. What monster could do this to a trusting little child ? Could there possible be a pattern of incompetence with the head pastor at First Presbyterian Church and their hiring procedures ? The judge should have given this punk 180 days.

Prayers4U

Lord, I pray for the uninformed people making comments on this page.
Please help them to see that assumptions made without knowledge can be harmful to the innocent members and staff of a church, and I pray that they stop and think before making baseless allegations in the future.
Lord, I pray for the people that don't know that none of the miss-guided individuals from our church had any pastoral education and were simply staff of the church.
I pray that everyone making comments here, also knows that everything alleged occurred away from the church and should not reflect on the mission or operation of the church.
I pray that slanderous allegations against the head pastor and staff of the church cease and that cooler heads prevail.
I pray that LIAMD feel your healing power and that he/she is a better person for your intervention.
I pray for the staff of the Grand Haven Tribune - that they write what is fact, ignore unsubstantiated hunches, and remember that past association of the guilty does not always need to be regurgitated with the hope of sensationalism.
Finally, I pray that everyone in the West Michigan area who reads this paper and comments, also remembers that the church is more than just one person and is formed by the common belief that God wants what is best for all of us, that words said, written, or heard can have a profound impact on the innocent majority, and that people young and old that attend FPCGH are stronger and more faithful for having been through this extended tribulation. Amen.

truthhurts

You're view points are idiotic and moronic. Lord I pray that you give prayers4u a back bone to stand up for what is right, and not support what is wrong.
Lord I pray that prayers4u does not hurt another young child by making excuses for the guilty

VanX

This story has everything. Misguided religion, violence towards the weak and defenseless, plus an ineffective county court system. I don't profess to tell anyone what God thinks of them, but He must be somewhat embarrassed about our little cluster of stupidity here in Ottawa County.

Mom of teens

This is not only horrifying but sickening and could have easily happened to my child. Shame on all the people that keep making excuses and rationalizing the evil things that certain people do.....I just hope that the mother of this poor little girl, puts her and her her newborn first.....I also feel sorry for his other son who now has 2 tainted male role figures....And we wonder why are children are so messed up.

VanX

Since Mom of Teens decided to show her 'compassion' to a young person who had absolutely nothing to do with the case in the article, I'd like to show compassion for the her kids. It must be awful to live with someone who is so quick to judge. Will it never end? "let those without sin cast the first stone".

GH resident

VanX, your post makes no sense. As a parent it is our responsibility to protect our children!! The above status was showing compassion.....Where is yours? I believe the article states it was his girlfriends child?? One would hope ex GF now. For the sake of the child....that is compassion.
He should have gotten much longer.

LIAMD

Thanks ' prayers4U ' now pull your head out of the sand and stop turning a blind eye. "I pray that slanderous allegations against the head pastor and staff of the church cease and that cooler heads prevail." Want to pray for me again after today's headlines involving the same head minister and staff ? I think I'll say a prayer for you.

WowBeit

It's a good thing everyone knows how perfect our judicial system works! It's even better when we act as they did during the Salem Witch trials. To top it off....I love how acurate the media is on everything! The judge passed his judgment on this, and that's it. This happened and it's pretty crappy. I will pray for no one on this and forgiveness isn't part of the deal either. This is a perfect example of how you can't afford to defend yourself. Just take the pea, says the lawyer whom wants to go home to his family. The system failed to seek out the truth and the media feeds off the bottom of the barrel. Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see. If you have time to march with pitch forks, you're not busy enough.Take up hobby perhaps that's more constructive and let the sytem and media screw up the world without your help to expidite the process.

GH resident

With his brother being an attorney, I am sure this is not the case..... If you don't want to be in the media, don't put yourself in a situation that puts you there. He admitted responsibility! The fact that he is even associated with the despicable act says enough!!!!

TooMuch

Sounds like WowBeit got the short end of the stick more than once. Still no excuses for this guy, he is a douche bag. He got off light.

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