By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - An Ohio landlord and businessman charged with assault after police suspected him of spanking a tenant who owed him rent money is now being sued in civil court for a similar accusation by a mentally disabled man.
Mark Neace filed a civil lawsuit in Warren County Common Pleas Courthouse earlier this week claiming Ronald Kronenberger, 53, punished him "with a belt and paddle" on four separate occasions.
Kronenberger's attorney was out of the office on Friday and could not be reached for comment.
Neace volunteered at Kronenberger's grocery stores in Waynesville, Ohio, 40 miles north of Cincinnati, from November to mid-December, according to his attorney, Eric Deters.
Kronenberger "would find any little thing wrong with what he (Neace) had done and would take him into the office and have him pull his pants down and hit him," Deters said.
Kronenberger's actions were "harmful or offensive," and "the direct and proximate cause of numerous injuries" to Neace, including "severe emotional distress," the suit says.
Neace has asked for a jury trial, claiming assault and battery, and is seeking both compensatory and punitive damages, the suit said.
Kronenberger was placed into a diversion program in a Warren County courtroom earlier this month after he was charged with one count of assault for striking Jimmy Marshall, 29, on the buttocks in January, according to court documents.
Marshall, a former tenant of Kronenberger, told authorities he was hit by the man as punishment because he owed him $2,800 in rent, according to the Dayton Daily News.
(Editing by Daniel Trotta, G Crosse)
(This story was refiled to correct spelling of accuser's surname in eighth paragraph)