Anchorage prosecutors charged Beagley with one count of misdemeanor child abuse. On January 28th, 2011, Beagley pleaded not guilty.
-- All previous posts on this case available HERE, with the most recent post appearing first.
-- Alaska Court System database entry on Jessica Beagley HERE, designated as Case No. 3AN-11-00323CR.
-- Seven-page charging document available HERE
Day One (Aug 16): Jury selection took place; at least 40 jurors were interviewed before they empaneled six of them. Because it's a misdemeanor trial, only six jurors and two alternates are required. Media coverage also included two reporter-photographer teams working for Russian media. Russia has taken an official interest in the case because Russian adoptees transported to another country retain their Russian citizenship until they're 18 years old. Additional story filed by KTVA Channel 11.
Day Two (Aug 17): Featured opening statements by both the prosecution and the defense. Municipal prosecutor Cynthia Franklin told the jury that that the abuse case centered around videos Beagley sent to the Dr. Phil Show. Apparently the show's producers started pressuring Beagley to "stage" a disciplinary event and send it into the show; fortunately, she did not need to stage an event since one naturally occurred. This was the event we all saw on YouTube. Detectives later applied for a search warrant and seized a camera and computer from the Beagley residence on the basis of that and other videos. The video is embedded below:
In his opening statement, Beagley's lawyer, William Ingaldson explained that this case is not about whether Jessica Beagley used a punishment that the rest of us would use, but rather it's about Jessica Beagley being charged with criminal child abuse. Ingaldson suggested that for the punishment to constitute a crime, prosecutors would have to prove it was done cruelly, gratuitously and with intent to inflict pain.
The latter is the key to the case. The video embedded above shows that Jessica Beagley did NOT act malevolently. She did not chimp out or go ballistic. She was authoritarian and firm, but remained in control at all times. When she took her son into the bathroom, she led him; she did NOT drag him. Thus if I was sitting on the jury, there's no way I could convict her of child abuse.
Day Three (Aug 18): Jurors were shown several tapes, including the one embedded in this post. One tape showed a stressful scene of Beagley getting her children ready for school. In the video, the children are late for school again and their mother is rushing them out the door. On the way to school, the children are told to listen and obey their teacher. If they don't, she threatens to keep them from going trick-or-treating, or worse. "If you lie, your mouth gets hot or soapy," Beagley told her young children. Also testifying were some of the children's elementary school teachers, who said Jessica Beagley was involved in her children's schoolwork and frequently visited their teachers to discuss issues, but never asked for help with disciplinary problems or for a referral for professional help. The prosecution then rested its case; more details published by the Anchorage Daily News.
Day Four (Aug. 19): Virginia Moring, a supervisor with the Office of Children's Services, testified. She said there were no signs of maltreatment -- which the office defines as neglect, physical or sexual abuse, domestic violence or drug use -- during visits to Beagley's home and interviews with her children. Investigators interviewed Beagley and her husband Gary, their children, as well as their coworkers and officials at the kids' school. The kids told OCS they felt safe.
Reaction: Comments to some Anchorage Daily News stories indicate supporters of Jessica Beagley slightly outnumber critics. It is noteworthy that although Beagley is a Mormon, there have been no snide comments about Mormonism show up in the comments yet. Here are a couple of typical supportive comments:
craniumak August 17th 12:34 P.M:
This is a joke. There are far worse things out there that could be considered child abuse. Now kids are told that even if their parents talk to them in a mean way they should bring it up to a counselor or something of the sort. I grew up in a military family that was very firm and strict. When I became of age and moved out on my own, and started living in the “civilian” world, I was sort of appalled at how kids act. For most of the family’s that I knew growing up in the military, we all were very respectful and knew our places. Yes there were a few odd ball ones, but, but to the most part pretty good. Because of how the system works now and current laws you can barely even yell at your kid without it being considered child abuse. The punishments that I got growing up in my household I take for granted now. It taught me that for every action that I do; it will come with a consequence. Some kids can’t be tamed or controlled with just words in some cases. However, by no means am I saying that someone should beat a kid also. Ok enough ranting.
AggravatedMotherOfSix August 17th 1:10 P.M:
I absolutely agree with you. I also grew up in a Military family. All these people whining about a mother putting hot sauce in his mouth are probably parents that would also find something wrong with washing a kids mouth out with soap. With every action there are consequences and kids need to learn that. Kids today that are being raised by these complacent parents who believe time out is the only way to go and spanking is wrong are doing the children an injustice. I absolutely believe in corporal punishment. With that being said, because my children knew what the consequences were I rarely ever had to resort to it. Today kids can report you if they get mad because you punished them, it is ridiculous and its people like the ones who posted here that have caused that.
Very few kids today respect their elders. More often they have this sense of entitlement because the parents give them what they want, the latest electronic gadget, ipods and cell phones in elementary. Where did the value of working hard for what you want go?
In defense I do not know the fully story of this lady however, if her only offense was putting hot sauce in the boys mouth for bad language and she was not beating on him then I believe she has the right whether or not people agree with that form of punishment.