August 24th, 2011
06:33 PM ET

Alaska's 'Hot-sauce Mom' convicted of child abuse

An Alaska mother's segment on "Dr. Phil" has landed her with the possibility of a jail sentence.

Jessica Beagley was found guilty of misdemeanor child abuse Tuesday. In November, she appeared on the talk show to discuss a video she had submitted of her disciplinary method, in which she had her then 6-year-old son hold hot sauce in his mouth and take a cold shower, said Anchorage prosecutor Cynthia Franklin. The video, which Beagley had e-mailed to the show in November 2009, ignited a debate about whether the tactic constituted abuse.

In the episode, which aired on November 17, 2010, host Phil McGraw challenges Beagley, calling the discipline over-the-top, outrageous and abusive. Authorities launched an investigation on the same day the episode, called "Mommy Confessions," aired.

Beagley's sentencing is scheduled for Monday. She could face a up to year in jail and fine of up to $10,000. Franklin said she was unable to provide any more commentary on the case, because Beagley's sentence is still pending.

The segment featured a home movie of Beagley punishing her son for getting in trouble at school and lying about it. In confessional-style explanations, Beagley provided commentary, saying she had tried other methods of discipline, including time outs and spankings, but to no avail.

"He'll turn and look at you like, 'Is that all you've got?'" Beagley said.

Beagley said on the episode that she had first tried putting soap in her son's mouth, but it had no effect.

"I want him to obey and listen and to understand the consequences of his choices," Beagley said.

On the website for "Dr. Phil," McGraw appears in a supplemental video, calling Beagley's case "extreme" and saying that Beagley needs "a wake-up call."

"I hope it makes all of us stop and grade our papers about how we're doing as parents," McGraw said.

According to a Ria Novosti article in January, the month Beagley was charged, Russian authorities in the United States are monitoring the case because Beagley adopted her son and his twin brother from Russia.

Beagley's lawyer, William Ingaldson, said a representative from the Russian consulate in Seattle had since visited the family and was satisfied with the home environment.

The Beagleys, who have six children, adopted the twins from Russia when they were 5, Ingaldson said. The boy who was punished in the video has reactive attachment disorder, a behavioral problem that makes effective discipline difficult, as the child has a "survival" mentality, Ingaldson said. The disorder can occur when a child does not bond with a parent within the early years of life and affects the sense of right and wrong.

Ingaldson said his client mistakenly went on "Dr. Phil" to find a way to effectively get through to her son, knowing her methods were not working.

"The show isn't about getting you help," Ingaldson said. "It's about ratings."

Since Beagley appeared on the show, she and her son have been going to therapy and the boy's behavior is showing improvements, Ingaldson said. The family will make a decision about an appeal after Monday's sentencing.

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Filed under: Alaska • Child safety • Courts • Justice • U.S.
soundoff (97 Responses)
  1. Cesar

    The world is a bottle of hot sauce, and I am its heat.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hot 'sauce' policeman

    In bigger news, a 7 year veteran of the Colorado Springs Police dept. is still in jail on a 1/2 million dollar bond. He has been officially charged with eight counts of molesting children, though dozens of iothers have come forward. The officers seyxual orientation has been determined to not be a factor in these crimes, since all of the victims are males.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Justdoit

    Try waterboarding. I hear it works wonders...

    August 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • ...

      I bet this woman would have had an extremely successful career at gitmo

      August 24, 2011 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cesar

    @justdoit: I want to waterboard you. Will you let me? @ Hot sauce policeman: What's your point?

    August 24, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  5. CPW

    THat is the most Bizaar thing I have heard in a while.

    August 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cesar

    @CPW: Is that right?

    August 24, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hot 'sauce' Policeman

    My point? That there are thousands of bigger stories concerning child abuse that are bigger, more interesting, have bigger impacts on society, etc., etc., than this Alask mom story. Now if a priest were on Dr. Phil's show and showed us how he dealt with boys...

    August 24, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fernace

    This kid is crying out for love & acceptance! I've been a nanny for 30 years & know that children will go for negative reinforcement if they don't get positive! Attention is attention, good or bad! If this mom & the adoption agency knew of the attachment disorder, therapy should have been prescribed right away! It seems many balls were dropped here & charging the mom is counter productive!!

    August 24, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hot 'sauce' Policeman

    @Cesar. Another point that might be gleaned from my post is, if this police officer were an older woman who got got preying on boys (but no girls), her seyxual orientation would be clear. Few would say that you can't call her hetero just because all of her victims were boys, in the same manner that most would say you can't call this officer gay just because all of his victims were males. (political correctness being the final judge and all) Not to mention 'cake and eat it too' syndrome.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hot 'sauce' Policeman

    @fernace...or ritalin. Millions of kids were forced to take ritalin. Now they all have ADD. Oh, you meant real therapy...not drug therapy?

    August 24, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jazzzzzzzz

    Has anyone ever thought of PRESCRIBING God as therapy... Just saying!
    Each to their own views with out personal attacks please, after all that would be the *christian* thing to do, right ....

    August 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Hot 'sauce' Policeman (legal problem)

    If this police officer stays in the closet and dows not come out as an openly gay individual, he's done-for. The prosecutor could then easily demonstrate to the Jury that this man had the capacoty to control his urges, and proved it by controlling himself around girls. If he admits being gay, he could then claim insanity.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cesar

    @Hot Sauce P. : Oh

    August 24, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jazzzzzzzz

    Just realized that could be taken the wrong way... the comment above is to everyone.... Me included , yep

    August 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ahkmed the Terror Guy

    The hoe-lee and hoe-levi cow post? That was on a different thread.

    August 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
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