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Dad who slapped boy in Deer Park says he was defending his daughter who'd been bullied

"He had actually walked up to me and said 'You look like you're transgender.' And saying I have no chest," 12-year-old Presleigh Rigney told KHOU 11.
Credit: KHOU
James Peace hugs his stepdaughter Presleigh

DEER PARK, Texas — A Deer Park father is making headlines after he was arrested for slapping his daughter’s classmate, a boy who that father says was bullying his child.

James Peace, 37, was arrested last weekend and has been charged with injury to a child under 15.

His stepdaughter, 12-year-old Presleigh Rigney, said she was getting bullied by the boy.

“I was just minding my own business, not saying anything. He had actually walked up to me and said 'You look like you're transgender.' And saying I have no chest," Presleigh said. 

The past few weeks at school, she's been in tears before the bell rings.

“And he threw ice cream at me. He actually flicked a spoon full of ice cream at me and yeah...it was just very hurtful," she said.

Presleigh called her parents and told them what had happened. Her stepdad came to pick her up from school.

“I was like 'okay, let's go home,' and he goes, ‘No I want to have a word with him,'" Presleigh said.

James Peace admits things quickly escalated when he confronted the boy.

“It might not had gone as far as it did if he would’ve quit running his mouth," Peace said.

MORE: Deer Park dad slapped 12-year-old who he said bullied his daughter, police say

The criminal complaint says the boy and a friend were walking home from school when they were confronted by Peace. 

The incident was caught on camera, and police say the video showed Peace slapping the 12 year old "with such severity that it knocked his headphones out of his ear."

“I wish it would’ve gone differently, maybe I should’ve, you know, 'where’s his parents at?' I probably should’ve walked him home and talked to his parents, but I didn’t like where his mouth was taking him and like I said, if I wasn’t intimidating him, then what were they doing to her every day?" Peace said.

Peace says he regrets getting physical but the mug shot and permanent mark on his record are worth it because he was defending his daughter.

“I’m not going to walk around here and hurt no kids. I never have before in my life. It’s just that I defend my kids. If it was ever the same way, I would check my own kids in front of you if I needed to. Right then and there," Peace said.

We tried reaching out to the family of the boy who was injured, but we have not yet heard back.

Peace says he will deal with whatever consequences come his way.

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