WAILUKU - A Kahului man who said he was disciplining his daughter when he struck her ears was placed on five years' probation Wednesday after she suffered a ruptured eardrum.
Eddie Rubon, 41, wasn't intentionally trying to injure his daughter, said Deputy Public Defender Jared Brickey.
"He loves her," Brickey said. "He feels terrible about it. It was more of a reckless thing. He overreacted and used too much force."
Brickey said Rubon, who is minister of the Maui Marshalese Assembly of God, has five children.
"One thing he didn't understand is that the U.S. criminal justice system is different than where he comes from," Brickey said. "Physical discipline is treated a little bit differently over there."
Rubon had pleaded no contest to second-degree assault for the April 25, 2012, incident.
At the time, Rubon's daughter hadn't been obeying house rules, Brickey said. He said Rubon had warned her before she arrived home late that day, and he struck her on both ears and used a Bible to push against her face.
The girl had to see a doctor for her injury, Brickey said.
Noting that it appeared to be a one-time incident, 2nd Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo followed a plea agreement in sentencing Rubon.
"Frankly, it doesn't matter what country you're in," Loo said. "Whether you're from the Marshall Islands or the United States, it's not acceptable to whack your daughter with such force.
"On top of everything, you are a minister. You should be dealing with problems at home in a much different manner than whacking someone on the side of the ear."
Rubon was given credit for four days he previously spent in jail. He was ordered to participate in anger management classes.