SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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August 21, 2013

Beverly father gets probation in assault

BEVERLY — A Beverly father admitted yesterday to charges that he beat and threatened to kill his then-11-year-old daughter last year because she had used the wrong bathroom.

While prosecutors were seeking a guilty finding and a three-year period of supervised probation, a Salem District Court judge agreed to continue the charges against Robert DiPalma, 33, of 23 Fayette St., Beverly, without a finding for a year.

Judge Michael Lauranzano did require that DiPalma be supervised by a probation officer for a year, with conditions that include continued family therapy, no abuse of the girl, and obeying any orders of the Department of Children and Families.

If he complies with those terms, the charges against DiPalma, assault and battery and threats to kill, will be dismissed.

Prosecutor Alex Grimes described how police were called to the family’s apartment by a neighbor in the building, after that woman heard a thud that sounded like a body being thrown and a man yelling “I’ll (expletive) kill you if you lie to me again.”

DiPalma’s wife told police that he became angry because the girl was using a particular bathroom in the apartment, but not admitting to it.

DiPalma pushed the girl to the floor, then repeatedly struck her in the face.

DiPalma’s wife later testified at a hearing in the case that the incident wasn’t as serious as described in the police report, Grimes told the judge.

DCF investigated the family after concerns were raised by a counselor that DiPalma had abused the girl and had an “anger problem,” Grimes said.

The agency is now in the process of reuniting the father and daughter, whose mother died, DiPalma’s attorney said.

Defense lawyer Mark Barry said his client was not prepared for the role of a parent but is now taking part in counseling.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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