Hi friends! It's very kind of so many of you who stand up for me at our church website, TheologyOnline.com. Let me give a few details that might clarify my conviction for child abuse:
Injury: It was widely reported that there was "broken skin" which would make even me conclude that I would have been guilty of child abuse, and that I had crossed the line of loving discipline. However, the police, who were on the scene literally just a few minutes after the spanking, did not bring our stepson to a clinic; there was no bandaging required, no ointment recommended, no blood, no band-aid, no treatment whatsoever. The "broken skin" referred to by those who despise me was a claim that resulted from a police photographer enlarging a small red mark to an oversized print to show in open court; and if they enlarged a photo of probably any such mark, or even of my fingers right now as I type this, they'd find the same "broken skin". And of course, with the misrepresentation of red marks after a spanking as "broken skin", those who strongly oppose my efforts run with that, and then not surprisingly allow their own imaginations to bring them even farther, and post utterly fabricated details as though they were established fact. I have no doubt that any number of such folks believe their "recollections".
Belt: I spanked my stepson five times on the backside because of his repeated disobedience to his Mom and I left three red welts. This spanking was similar to how my dad spanked, and how we've spanked all of our boys, all of whom love us, as we so dearly love them. (We spank as the Bible teaches parents to spank their kids, and as does Dr. Dobson's original Dare to Discipline book and Michael and Debbi Pearl's Train up a Child.) I asked Cheryl for a belt instead of using my heavier one. Hers was not a cotton belt as has been said by some friends, nor was it a leather belt, as has been said by others, which would have worked fine, but it was sufficient for a proper spanking, and I gave him five swats on the backside which left three red welts which were photographed by the police within about 15 minutes of the spanking. (Yes there was child abuse, but it was by the police showing those pictures in open court and allowing perverts to pay a few bucks and copy the court file.)
Stepson: Yes, when I spanked "______", he was not quite yet officially my stepson. I was having dinner with Cheryl and her boys, getting to know them better in the days just prior to our wedding. I don't recall the fact that he was not yet my stepson being significant in any of the trials we had about the spanking. Sadly, Colorado law couldn't care less whether a man and a woman raising kids are even married. I haven't checked but I don't think Colorado law gives special authority to step-parents that is not available to those who are only engaged, so I don't know how this could be significant as some have claimed here on TOL. Even baby-sitters and teachers could spank kids, but the law indicates if there is an injury (which they interpret even as pain itself, which means that only spankings that do not hurt are officially "legal"), then it is child abuse. Cheryl and I decided immediately that we wouldn't use her son's name when talking about the spanking, and so when discussing the spanking, "I spanked my stepson."
Jail Time: It was alleged on TheologyOnline by a Christian whose brief friendship I had enjoyed that I've tried to "cover-up" that I went to jail for this conviction. The whole episode played out over many months on live TV, radio, in the newspapers, and even with me going repeatedly on ABC's Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher. I even recorded our weekly Bible studies from within jail (as described below), and we still make those Bible studies from jail available through our radio program. Seeing firsthand what life is like as an inmate reinforced my opposition to incarceration as a form of punishment. It's no longer a justice system, now its just a system. I've long described jail as time out for adults and an ineffective deterrent (as in a program titled 1 in 100 in Jail). I've spent six months in jail, not for DUIs but for defending Christian family values. That's a catch phrase I use when I mention in passing my convictions for: Operation Rescue work, child discipline, leafleting in a shopping center parking lot (as specifically permitted by U.S. & Colorado State Supreme Court rulings). If I am going to brag, it should be only in the Lord, and in my own infirmities, so I jokingly brag about my incarceration and don't hesitate to talk about my spanking conviction.
$panking: Regarding Denver's alternative newspaper, the anti-Christian Westword, asking me about the big money I made from publicity on the spanking trials, I'll share with you a detail that's not well known. But first, sometimes I "answer a fool according to his folly," (Prov. 26:5) and I realize that sarcasm will often go over people's heads, but that doesn't mean that it is never warranted. I seem to recall that my spanking jail sentence was 120 days. During the two months that I actually served, I had a wonderful time in jail ministering, in our "pod" of about 32 inmates, to desperately miserable people and even helping to lead one emboldened child molester to the Lord. (Jailhouse conversions are often fake of course, so please pray for him.) On April 20, 1999, the other inmates and I noticed that the mobile Command Center pulled out of the parking lot. (It was always parked in view of my window, beneath my cell.) Within minutes we began watching the live TV coverage and a few days later I first met a Columbine dad whose son had been murdered, as we spoke on a telephone through a security glass. Also, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department only allows inmates to make something like 400 minutes of long-distance calls per week and 240 minutes of local calls. What a hardship! So I managed to host some live radio shows from jail (some of the first "pod" casts in history) and record our now classic James and Jude Bible study album. So, just as from the Bible days, I had great ministry opportunity in jail but at the same time, I terribly missed my wife and children and of course Cheryl wanted her husband home because jail as a punishment is a far greater burden on the wife and kids who have to keep on with the workload of normal life. The incarcerated husband is entertained most of the day with TV and movies, playing cards, gambling, sleeping, eating, and playing foosball (yes, foosball), ping pong, handball, basketball, and so on. (Yes, the inmates are running the asylum.) In contrast, God authorizes only three kinds of criminal punishments: restitution, corporal, and capital punishment. With my high-profile case, we thought it likely that Sheriff John Stone (who we've rebuked widely after Columbine exposed his wickedness) might attempt to deny me normal "time off for good behavior." So to manipulate Stone, Cheryl and I staged a make-believe conversation. And it was clockwork. I said to her from the phone in the inmates' dayroom, "Oh, we're taking in how much a day? Wow! That much? Well, I'll only be in here another few weeks, but hopefully the money will keep coming in after I'm released." The inmates then asked me what that was about, and I told them we're taking in over $1,000 a day since I'd been incarcerated. That was it. Not only do the phone calls get monitored, but my fellow inmates told the guard (of course they would, why not?) at the desk. He told the sergeant. The sergeant told the sheriff. Two days later, the Rocky Mountain News ran a story that Sheriff John Stone was proposing that the county charge inmates for room and board, and when he was asked in the story, "Aren't most inmates broke," he answered, "Yes, but we have one in jail right now :) who is wealthy." Ha. When the Westword reporter brought up the issue, we got a kick out of it, and played it up. Answer a fool according to his folly.
What is important of course is that while the courts went far in their attempt to tear our family apart, our boys who lived through that difficult time are today, fifteen years later, not only beloved as our adult children, but they are our warmest and dearest friends. We dearly love them and our grandkids, and we enjoy and appreciate their love.
Again, thank you to my friends for your kindness!
Comments: As with each of our KGOV.com radio programs, there is a particular thread at TheologyOnline.com where you can comment on this. Also, for recent research on the benefit to kids who are spanked, please see kgov.com/spanking.