NOBLETON — Deputies arrested a Nobleton man and accused him of striking his niece because she took some of his cigarettes.
Varick Lee Kohler, 34, faces a charge of child abuse. He was arrested early Tuesday and was held in the Hernando County Jail in lieu of $20,000 bail.
An arrest report says Kohler confronted his niece about 11:30 p.m. Monday after he went to the bathroom and returned to find that his cigarettes were missing from a table in the living room.
Kohler said he pushed his niece when she denied taking the cigarettes.
The niece, who isn't being identified because she is a juvenile, told deputies that Kohler pushed her into a shelving unit and then hit her on both sides of her face with an open hand.
The two wrestled around before the girl punched him with a closed fist in an attempt to get away from him, according to the report.
The girl's mother told deputies that she was awaken by her brother — Kohler — yelling at her daughter and that she saw him strike the girl.
Deputies said the girl had injuries on her back consistent with being pushed into the shelving unit, minor redness on her left ear and a minor scrape on her left forearm.
Kohler was taken into custody.
Joel Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 754-6120.