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Man Admits Breaking Boys Thumb

By Peggy Wright • STAFF WRITER • June 23, 2011

A Rockaway Township man who originally was charged with throwing rocks at a 12-year-old boy and hitting him with a shovel admitted Wednesday to hurting the child’s thumb while disciplining him. Mark Hildebrant Jr., 29, pleaded guilty in state Superior Court, Morristown, to the civil offense of abuse and neglect of a child.

Hildebrant admitted to fracturing a 12-year-old boy’s thumb, inadvertently, when he grabbed the child’s hand on Jan. 19, 2010, while disciplining him in Rockaway Township according to defense lawyer James Porfido. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office did not pursue charges that Hildebrant in April 2010 endangered the boy’s welfare by throwing rocks at him, whacking him with a shovel and forcing him to hold stones in his mouth as punishment for doing sloppy yard work and messing up his bedroom.

At the time Hildebrant was indicted, Porfido said there was no corroborating evidence or medical proof that the boy was hit with rocks or a shovel. In exchange for his plea to abuse and neglect, Hildebrant will be sentenced in late July to a period of probation and up to 364 days in the Morris County Jail, though his lawyer will argue for no time behind bars.

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