Local dad sentenced to 20-40 years in prison for severely beating kids

JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — He plead guilty to beating his children with boards, pipes, and dog leashes.

And now, that mid-Michigan father has received his punishment.

After pleading guilty to multiple counts of child abuse, 50-year-old James Harbert was in Jackson County Court Wednesday morning for sentencing.

Harbert was given 20 to 40 years behind bars.

It was an emotional day in court as this family spoke about the abuse that’s ripped them apart.

Judge John McBain says he’s never seen a child abuse case this bad.

“This was systematic, almost torture. I mean, those boys were so badly beaten,” McBain said at the sentencing.

Two years ago, James and Tina Harbert were both charged with multiple counts of child abuse for severely beating their sons, who were 10 and 12 years old.

During the trial, both boys testified they were kept home and out of school to work long hours in the family’s dog kennel business.

They also both reported getting beat with boards, pipes and dog leashes by their parents as punishment.

One beating was so bad the child spent 11 days in the hospital.

Last month, Tina Harbert was found guilty by a jury and James Harbert pleaded guilty mid-trial.

Before being sentenced, the father said they failed their sons.

“We expected too much from them. We put too much responsibility on them. We disciplined them too harshly, all while using our excuse that we had chores to do as kids, and that we also got our butts beat, and worse,” Harbert said in court.

One of the sons told the judge that he loved his father and asked the judge to give him a lighter sentence.

But the other boy stood with his therapist as she read his scathing statement.

“The torture you made us endure will not turn me into the piece of sh** you are,” she said reading the statement. “You are a man who deserves to spend the rest of his life suffering.”

The judge handed down a sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.

“It is bit in the top of the sentencing guidelines but this case is so brutal,” McBain said.

Tina Harbert was also in court, but a court paperwork error postponed her sentencing.

She will be back in court next week for sentencing.

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