Monthly Archives: November 2011

Couple Who Beat Daughter to Death per the Pearls’ Instructions Face Life

At least three known child deaths have been linked to the child discipline book “To Train Up a Child” written by Michael and Debi Pearl, a fundamentalist Christian minister and his wife.

Their book advocates corporal punishment for children from infancy using implements and even suggests withholding food and hosing children down for behavior lapses. As I’ve written previously, the Pearls’ writings have a wide following.

Recent child deaths caused by beatings administered by parents pursuant to the Pearls’ instructions have received significant publicity.

The trial in the case involving Larry and Carri Williams of Sedro-Woolley, Washington, is set for May 7, 2012. Out on bail after being accused of beating their 13-year-old adopted daughter to death, the Williams now face life in prison on a homicide charge.

Their daughter was found face down, naked, and emaciated in her family’s backyard on May 12, 2011. Officials determined her death to have been caused by hypothermia and malnutrition. According to the sherriff’s affidavit, she had been beaten earlier in the day with 15-inch plastic piping. The use of this piping to “train” children is one of the primary recommendations in the Pearls’ book.

Texas Juvenile and Family Court Judge Caught on Video Beating his Daughter

23 year-old Hillary Adams of Texas, who secretly videotaped her father beating her angrily with a belt when she was 16 years-old for downloading internet materials, recently released the video on YouTube sparking a firestorm of response and controversy.

Her father, Juvenile and Family Law Judge William Adams, of Aransas County, Texas, has now acknowledged that he is the one shown in the video but also claimed that the incident was not as bad as it appears in the video.

According to Hillary and her mother, Hallie Adams, also shown in the video assisting the father in the beating, violence in the home was a regular occurrence, with the mother making a reference to addiction. The mother has since apologized to her daughter for her actions, acknowledging that she did what William Adams told her to do in the home. The mother and daughter now make reference to both physical and emotional abuse. In fact, according to Hillary, it was the continuing emotional abuse that was “the straw that broke the camel’s back” leading her to release the video.

The YouTube video has gone viral and led to a Facebook page titled “Don’t Re-Elect Judge William Adams“, which has attracted over 27,000 “Likes” as of this writing. Judge Adams has also been relieved of his work duties temporarily pending investigation. Aransas County police and the District Attorney’s Office are conducting an investigation, with the District Attorney evaluating the potential of filing charges. They are looking at the age of the child and the statute of limitations, among other factors. The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct has declined to comment on the situation apart from an acknowledgement of awareness.

Numerous major news outlets are presenting this story, including Anderson Cooper’s AC360, which will be airing an interview with Hillary Adams this evening.

Hillary’s YouTube posting is accompanied by the following language:

2004: Aransas County Court-At-Law Judge William Adams took a belt to his own teenage daughter as punishment for using the internet to acquire music and games that were unavailable for legal purchase at the time. She has had ataxic cerebral palsy from birth that led her to a passion for technology, which was strictly forbidden by her father’s backwards views. The judge’s wife was emotionally abused herself and was severely manipulated into assisting the beating and should not be blamed for any content in this video. The judge’s wife has since left the marriage due to the abuse, which continues to this day, and has sincerely apologized and repented for her part and for allowing such a thing, long before this video was even revealed to exist. Judge William Adams is not fit to be anywhere near the law system if he can’t even exercise fit judgement as a parent himself. Do not allow this man to ever be re-elected again. His “judgement” is a giant farce. Signed, Hillary Adams, his daughter.

DA of Maricopa County, Arizona aims to reform child protection system

Bill Montgomery, the District Attorney of Maricopa County in Arizona has a unique and perhaps revolutionary proposal to reform his county’s response to child abuse reports. Instead of initial Child Protective Services (“CPS”) involvement as is typical, Mongomery would create a two-tiered system in which a separate unit with trained investigators routes a case after intake to either the criminal unit or to CPS.

Cases in which the investigator believes felony-level criminal abuse occured would be immediately routed to the criminal unit, reported to the police, and taken out of the hands of CPS. Once the parents are charged, the children would be placed with foster parents specially trained to take care of children who have been criminally abused, while the parental case would move quickly toward severance of parental rights and adoption. The parents would then have the burden of demonstrating that they should be permitted to keep the child.

If, on the other hand, the initial investigator believes that social services involvement is appropriate and a level four felony has not occured, then the case would be routed to CPS, for the agency to conduct its process of the provision of social services and attempts at reunification.

Montgomery’s proposal was triggered in large part by his observation and review of reports of numerous cases in which CPS dealt ineffectively with child abuse by working at reunification at all costs, even when child abuse was serious. He is severely troubled by the numbers of child fatalities in cases where CPS returned children to parents determined to be abusive.

In Montgomery’s view, it is most important that children be protected from criminal abuse above all, leaving less critical issues to the social services system to handle: “[W]e as a society will deliberately walk that child back into the arms of the person who criminally abused them and say we can make this good. Nonsense.”

He believes that this bifurcated approach could even lead to fewer children being removed from homes because the standard for removal could be higher in CPS cases where the system removes the fear of threat and severe harm to the child.