Jessica Beagley, the Alaska mother-of-six who sparked international condemnation, has been found guilty of child abuse. Footage of Beagley using hot-sauce to discipline her seven-year-old adopted Russian son went viral having been aired on the “Dr Phil” show.
The 36-year-old mother of six was fined $10,000 and now faces a year in prison for child abuse. According to reports in the Daily Telegraph Beagley showed little emotion when her sentence was handed down on Wednesday in Anchorage.
This case came to light last November when Beagley’s home video, filmed by her daughter, was nationally aired on the “Dr Phil” show. The show's viewers in the US and Russia phoned the police after seeing footage which showed Beagley forcing the seven-year-old to drink hot sauce and take cold showers. The adopted Russian boy was heard screaming in the shower.
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Lawyer for the prosecution, Cynthia Franklin, claimed the Alaskan mom had staged the footage for the clip so that her case would be featured on the “Dr Phil” show segment “Mommy Confessions”. The lawyer also said that the footage further humiliated the seven-year-old child.
She said “In the end, (jurors) concluded that it is cruel punishment when you pile punishments on top of one another and have your other child videotape it so you can get on a television show."
William Ingaldson, Beagley’s lawyer said she was desperate to get advice from Dr Phil, the self-help guru. Her lawyer said “I think it's without a doubt, if she hadn't gone on "Dr. Phil", this never would have happened."
Her lawyer claims that Beagley and her husband were struggling with raising the boy and his twin brother. They adopted the boys from an orphanage in Magadan, Russian, when they were five. They have both since been diagnosed with emotional disorders stemming from their early years. They are now in long-term therapy.
The Beagley family also has three other daughters and a song with Down Syndrome.
According to Ingaldson this guilty verdict is based on a vaguely written law. He said “It makes it really tough as a parent to discipline your kids and not be subject to other people's subjective ideas of what is right or wrong…This is a very good loving family," he said.
The Russian public have been following Beagley’s case closely and voicing their concern for the safety of adopted children who may face abuse in the US.
Just last year Torry Hansen of Shelbyville, Tennessee put her adopted seven-year-old son, Artyem Saviliev, on a plane to Moscow with nothing but a note in his pocket. She claimed that her adopted son was mentally unbalanced and violent. At the time the Russian officials threatened to halt adoptions to the US.