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Criminal law: Mother films herself force-feeding son chilli sauce for TV show

A woman in Alaska has been convicted of child abuse after sending a video of herself cruelly punishing her adopted son to the US television programme 'Dr Phil'.

Jessica Beagley's video showed her forcing the 6-year-old boy to swallow chilli sauce and to stand under a cold shower. The video appeared on the episode 'Mommy Confessions' of 'Dr Phil', in which the host Phil McGraw described the discipline as abusive.

Mrs Beagley, who adopted the boy and his twin brother from Russia, claimed that she had tried all sorts of discipline methods but had not been successful.

She said: "I want him to obey and listen and to understand the consequences of his choices."

The boy suffers from reactive attachment disorder, which is often caused by not forming a bond with a parent in the child's early years. He would often behave badly, lying on the ground and urinating.

Russian officials are now concerned at the number of Russian children being adopted in the US and suffering abuse there. It is estimated that 17 Russian children have died due to domestic violence in America since 1992.

As a result of this case, and others involving Russian children, Russian officials have placed a suspension on international adoptions.

However, an official from the Russian consulate visited the Beagley's home and said they were satisfied with the home environment.

Despite this, Mrs Beagley was found guilty of child abuse and is awaiting sentencing on Monday (29 August). It is thought that she will receive a $10,000 fine and possibly a one-year jail sentence.

Both Mrs Beagley and the boy have been having counselling since the TV programme and the boy has been showing improvement in his behaviour. But at this point it is uncertain whether he will be removed from his home.

Related links:
Read more on the story (CNN)
Read about domestic violence (FindLaw)
Find local criminal solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)