A Tompkinsville man accused of beating his 10-year-old son with a 15-inch stick of beef jerky was charged yesterday with felony assault, and could face up to seven years in prison.

Esteban Palafox, 34, of Corson Avenue, was charged with whipping his son with the jerky stick because he had missed school.

Palafox, who lives above the Mexico Azteca Grocery & Deli II, allegedly yelled at his son at 10 a.m. on Saturday and then went downstairs to obtain the jerky from the deli.

According to court papers, Palafox went back upstairs to his apartment and "repeatedly" hit the boy "on the upper thighs with a dangerous weapon -- to wit the beef jerky -- creating discoloration, bruising and substantial pain."

According to a published report, the child's mother -- Palafox's ex-wife -- took her son to the hospital, which notified child welfare officials about the boy, Esteban Jr.

Palafox did not return a telephone message from the Advance.

A worker at Mexico Azteca said the charges are false.

The worker, who did not provide his name, said Palafox was mad at the child for missing three days of school, but did not actually hit him.

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