An Alaska mother who disciplined 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 – was found guilty of one misdemeanor count of child abuse by an Anchorage jury on Tuesday.
Standing when her verdict was read, Jessica Beagley, 36, then quickly left the courtroom with her husband Gary, an Anchorage police officer, reports the Anchorage Daily News. In their haste to exit, the two did not respond to reporters’ questions.
Anchorage prosecutors said the videotape of the crying young Kristoff, whom the Beagleys adopted from Russia with his twin brother in 2008, was filmed by the couple’s 10-year-old daughter. The Beagleys have six children.
Prosecutor Cynthia Franklin praised the verdict, saying jurors “followed the law and they concluded that it is child abuse to hurt your child as an audition for a television show.”
Beagley’s defense lawyer, William Ingaldson, said, “This is a very good, loving family, and of course we don’t hear that in the trial.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Monday. Beagley faces a potential $10,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
According to the Associated Press, 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, reports the Anchorage Daily News, 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 grabbed the bottle of hot sauce and the video camera.
Producers of the show have not commented.
After the segment with Beagley aired in November 2010, Russian authorities reportedly threatened to take back Kristoff and his twin, but the children have remained in the Beagleys’ custody and are not expected to be removed from the household, says the Daily News.