Dejesus Gardner, 32, faces a charge of cruelty to children after a middle school official called the sheriff’s office. The 13-year-old told deputies Gardner had beaten her with a belt.
Defense attorney Greg Leopard told the judge Friday in Richmond County Superior Court that Gardner had discovered the girl had been exchanging explicit messages with a 22-year-old man who lives in Augusta. Leopard said the teen had formed two prior inappropriate online relationships with adults in the past.
As a condition of bond, Gardner is not to have contact with his stepchildren.