EFFINGHAM — A judge has found probable cause in an Effingham man’s aggravated domestic battery case.
Judge James Eder on Thursday ordered a trial for William N. Ruholl, 36, on a charge of aggravated domestic battery, a Class 2 felony.
During a preliminary hearing Thursday, Effingham County Assistant State’s Attorney Rob Scales called to the stand Effingham Detective Matthew Hoelscher. Hoelscher testified that an Effingham police officer responded to Ruholl’s residence on Dec. 26 after a neighbor at the apartment complex reported hearing a male yell, a smacking sound and then a child crying.
Hoelscher said upon arrival, the officer observed multiple injuries to a child at Ruholl’s residence, including bruising and welts to the child’s face, neck, chest, arms, stomach and back. A medical examination of the child later found marks on the child’s buttocks as well.
Hoelscher said Child Advocacy Center professionals subsequently interviewed the injured child and another child in the household, and Hoelscher was also present during the interviews. The injured child indicated that Ruholl had left markings on the child’s face and buttocks and said that Ruholl sometimes punches the child.
Hoelscher further testified that the injured child also said that Ruholl would take the child’s shirt, blanket and pillow so the child would be cold as a form of punishment.
The second child interviewed said he witnessed Ruholl harming the other child. The child said Ruholl had also in the past harmed the other child’s genitals, Hoelscher said.
Hoelscher said he interviewed Ruholl and also reviewed the officer’s report of the initial call. Hoelscher said that Ruholl neither admitted nor denied the child’s injuries but indicated the injuries could have been caused by the children wrestling with each other.
Hoelscher said that during a phone call between Ruholl and his fiancée while Ruholl was in custody, the fiancée said she would tell authorities she hit the child with a belt, causing some of the injuries.
During cross examination by Ruholl’s attorney, Walter Lookofsky, Hoelscher testified that he was not aware of other adults’ presence in the home prior to police being called to Ruholl’s residence in December. He said that Ruholl, his fiancée, the two children and another child lived at Ruholl’s Effingham apartment.
Hoelscher said the interviewed children did not indicate that they were afraid of Ruholl. He said the injured child said no adults other than Ruholl have struck him in the past.
Scales said there are significant indications that at least one felony had occurred during the incident, if not multiple felonies. He said the bruises and markings on the child constitute great bodily harm, and the injuries to the child’s anus constitute a felony as well.
Lookofsky said there is no credible evidence that Ruholl was the one who committed the felonies and that only the fiancée admitted to harming the child. He said there was no probable cause for the case.
Eder found there to be enough probable cause in the case to bring it to trial and set Ruholl’s arraignment for 11 a.m. on Feb. 25.