The Alaska mother convicted of disciplining her 7-year-old for misbehaving in school by pouring hot sauce down his throat and then giving him a cold shower – all the time videotaping what she was doing so she could be considered for an appearance on Dr. Phil – will not be jailed or charged a fine.
Although found guilty of one misdemeanor count of child abuse by an Anchorage jury on Aug. 24, Jessica Beagley was ordered on Monday to continue attending counseling sessions with the son she abused and received three years’ probation, reports the Anchorage Daily News.
Her 180-day jail sentence and $2,500 fine were both suspended. Beagley, 36, faced a potential $10,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
“You’re not a danger to the public,” District Court Judge David Wallace told her at sentencing, says the paper. “I think you committed a one-time act to get on a TV show.”
Pleading for leniency and speaking haltingly, Beagley told the judge: “My most important job in this life is of being a mother. I would ask that the court would allow me to be that. To be that mother that I would like to be, to not disrupt the lives of my children any more than has been already.”
Tearfully, she also said, as seen in a clip from the courtroom aired on NBC, “Please know that everything that has been said and done was in the best interest of my children, because I love them.”
Beagley initially contacted the Dr. Phil show after seeing a segment in April 2009 called “Angry Moms.” A year and a half later, she was contacted by the show and asked if she was “still angry.”
Her response was to send a tape of her yelling at her kids, but the show reportedly said it needed to see her punishing her children. That’s when she reputedly had her 10-year-old daughter (the Beagleys have six children) videotape the incidents with the hot sauce and cold shower.
The Beagley son in the tape, Kristoff, was adopted from Russia with his twin brother in 2008. Prosecutors said the boy is now teased in school over the incident, which was first aired on Dr. Phil in November 2010.
Jessica Beagley’s husband, Gary, is an Anchorage police officer. He defended his wife, saying that Kristoff has a special problem – Reactive Attachment Disorder – and the parents didn’t know how to handle him, reports the Daily News.
“We just ended up getting wrapped up in television and we had no idea where that would end up,” said Gary.
BY STEPHEN M. SILVERMAN