Jessica Beagley, a mother of six children who achieved infamy for disciplining her adopted Russian son by pouring hot sauce in his mouth and by forcing him to take a cold shower as shown in a home video aired on "Dr. Phil," was charged with misdemeanor child abuse in late January. Ms. Beagley
pleaded not guilty through her attorney. Her attorney described the incident as "a family matter."
I can't begin to fathom any possible justification for an offense committed against a child because it was perpetrated by a family member. Does this attorney propose to offer no defense because no defense other than the familial nature of the alleged [it is with great angst that I refer to the abuse as alleged when it was captured on videotape at the bequest of the alleged perpetrator herself] abuse is necessary? Is he buying time until a plea deal can be arranged on behalf of his client? What law school did he attend, and did this alleged institute of higher learning not teach its former student the value of the "no comment" response?
I was also dismayed when I read a Salt Lake Tribune column by Robert Kirby which touched upon the topic. Mr. Kirby, the author of a light-hearted religious column appearing in the Tribune, said basically that the response to Ms. Beagley's actions was overblown. He based his conclusions on the much-heavier-handed discipline he had survived. Mr. Kirby is something of an anomaly as a Mormon with the ability to laugh at himself. He writes with irreverence about most topics he chooses to address. While I normally value irreverence at least as much as the next person, I would have preferred that Mr. Kirby leave this particular topic uncovered. I can't comment on the level of abuse present or absent in the disciplinary tactics employed by the adults charged with Mr. Kirby's upbringing, but I can only assume that he didn't come to his caregivers toting a similar load of psychological baggage as did the adopted Russian orphan. Thus, any comparison between the disciplinary methods employed by Mr. Kirby's parents and neighbors and those used by Ms. Beagley would be "apples to oranges" at the very closest,and more realistically something like "apples to cacti."
Ms. Beagley will appear in court on March 21, at which time we may learn more specifically what is her justification for asserting that she is not guilty of child abuse. Does she plan some variation of the Twinkie defense? Since she is LDS, perhaps green Jello made or do it. Then again, she may have overdosed on funeral potatoes.