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Child abuser gets 30 days in jail

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:42 PM
bvargo@grandhaventribune.com 616-842-6400 ext. 231

“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.

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