A city man has been given a suspended prison sentence in an assault case by agreeing to pay for plastic surgery for the victim.

Ronald Kegler, 63, charged with punching his girlfriend in the face and creating a gash that required 52 stitches, agreed Wednesday to pay a plastic surgeon to fix her scar.

Paying for the plastic surgery is a condition of a plea agreement that includes a five-year suspended prison sentence and five years of probation.

Superior Court Judge Samuel Freedman approved the deal Wednesday.

Ricki Goldstein, special deputy assistant state's attorney in the court's Domestic Violence Unit, said Kegler avoided a possible prison sentence in the Dec. 5, 2003, assault by agreeing to pay for reconstructive surgery.

Police had been called to Kegler's house by his girlfriend of 11 years, Kimberly Knight, after an argument over the television remote control escalated to violence.

Kegler's attorney, John Imhoff Jr. and the prosecutor said that although settlements involving restitution for medical treatment aren't unusual in civil cases, they couldn't remember seeing the arrangement in a criminal case.

"I think it was fair and it let him buy his freedom with an act that he should have wanted to do, but now he has to do, and she will be a changed person inside and out,'' Goldstein said.