There’s a new case the Perfect Parent Lobby are adding to their “abused but let off by the courts” file*.
The lead juror in the child cruelty case said she was “embarrassed to be a New Zealander” because the couple on trial were “good decent parents trying to instil a sense of responsibility”.
But former Green MP Sue Bradford, the law’s architect, said she was ashamed people thought such actions were acceptable. To her they amounted to assault.
The father and his new wife were found not guilty after a trial on 15 charges alleging cruelty against two children from his previous marriage. The children were aged 10 and under at the time.
The couple’s lawyer used Section 59 of the Crimes Act, the amendment championed by Bradford, as a defence.
The case tested the amendment and showed what a jury would allow in terms of “justified force” to prevent or minimise harm, or to stop the child engaging in “offensive or disruptive behaviour”.
“It is probably the worst thing I have ever done to my child, but I grabbed my tie that I wear for church and I tied his wrist to my wrist beside my bed so he couldn’t take off and go and kill himself,” the father told the Sunday Star-Times. “Then he did manage to loosen it, so I did tie it around his neck for only about 30 seconds. I admitted to those things in court, but given the circumstances and what I was trying to achieve – trying to stop him killing himself – I was found not guilty.”
He also gave his son a “number two” haircut to teach him a lesson after a couple of years of stealing from his parents.
There’s a thread at Kiwiblog, with some interesting comments by some on the left. This one in particular is disturbing, as the author (Toad) seems to think it a bad thing that parents have the right to use force at all. (If you disagree with that, I suggest you reply in comments here – but be sure to do so without using force of any kind.)
But really, there’s pretty much zero detail on any of the alleged offending. And a lot of people are jumping to the conclusion that the jury didn’t do it’s job by acquitting. Much of that is being generated by this quote:
Deanne Shilton, the lead juror in the case, contacted the Sunday Star-Times through a third party. She said she was “embarrassed to be a New Zealander” and felt awful for the couple for having to go through the case – particularly the heavily pregnant wife of the father, who was forced to climb several flights of stairs to court cells during any break.
Clearly the jury found the case to have no substance whatsoever, and this was clear from the start.
Bob McCroskrie has some of the background. It sheds light on just how the jury came to that conclusion.
While staying with his mum on holiday, Jack’s 12y/o decided he wanted to stay there instead of at dad’s. The mother told him to ring Whatsup – the youth helpline – and to make claims of smacking and abuse by Jack. This was referred to CYF, and the nightmare began.
Despite testimony and written affidavits in the Family Court covering this period which praised Jack’s parenting skills and supported his application for custody of his children, and despite no other supporting evidence, CYF also took custody of his 6y/o and 1y/o.
Letting a government agency be used by one side in a breakup is not a good look.
There were claims against Jack and his wife Jill of smacking, excessive time out in a cold room (the whole house was cold!), cold showers, giving the 12y/o a #2 haircut (not a shameful cut at all – the school principal testified in court that it was nice), and excessive chores.
I’ll just break in here. So let’s be clear – outside of smacking the abuse consisted of:
- Living in a typical cold NZ house
- Cold showers (oh, the horror!)
- Getting the child to do work around the house
- Giving the boy a haircut
One wonders what sort of prosecution would bring up such charges. One can only speculate that they wanted to lose their case.
Jack and Jill were also charged with kidnapping and tying the 12 y/o when preventing him from harming himself and others. The 12y/o had twice recently seriously assaulted Jill including punching her in the stomach when she was pregnant and biting and kicking her to the ground on another occasion, but no action was taken by CYF or the police.
Tying up a child sounds bad, but when the other option is letting him give a pregnant woman a miscarriage (which the SST never mentioned) there’s a clear case to be made for protection of others. Which is, was, and always will be legal.
Jack was also charged with washing the boy’s mouth with soap when he repeatedly swore mother-f**ker and other highly offensive language at the parents. Other attempts to stop this had failed.
Surprisingly, the average kiwis on the jury didn’t think using soap was abuse.
I don’t know if the jury got it right.
But it seems that there is a lot more here than the media are willing to report.
*Actually, there are a few in that file that were not let off by the courts. Also, none have ever (AFAIK) escaped CYFS sanction regardless of court findings.
Update: The Jury Foreperson has contacted Bob
What the Star Times didn’t say and Sue Bradford doesn’t know, is the child punched the step-mother in the stomach whilst she was pregnant stating he wished the baby would die. On another occasion, we saw photographs of bruising, cuts and abrasions that the son had inflicted on the step-mother – knocking her to the ground. This was her reward for attempting to prevent the child using a bicycle that didn’t belong to him. After hours and hours of searching they finally brought the child home late at night. He then went on to threaten to kill himself and the other children sleeping in the house. Conveniently, none of this is mentioned in the Star Times article – just the desperate attempts by the father to protect his family and the child from himself portrayed in a way that makes him look like a monster – he is far from it.
The Jury found both the father and the step-mother not guilty on all 15 charges presented in less than an hour.
Read the whole thing.