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. Jazzzzzzzz

    I may not be the most eloquent of women, sharp with words but, I am there fore God deems me to be *worth* something... He GETS me... see we all have issues my friend....
    My heart is for God whom loves me...no more or no less than any other of his children !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 25, 2011 at 6:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. But does God love...

    ...what you are doing more than he loves what his other children are doing. Parents love their children always, but not always what their children are doing, and doing to each other as well. Or not so well, depending on whose side your on.

    August 25, 2011 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jazzzzzzz

    Shut up!!!!!!!!!! God loves me!!!!!!!!!!!! period

    August 25, 2011 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
    • cucu

      you need help !!!!!!

      August 25, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jazzzzzzz

    BTW .... show your name @ but does God love... who are you, reveal your self , other wise your words are meaningless !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 25, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. fernace

    This mom adopted a child with a learning disorder & was not prepared for the ramafications! As I stated earlier, all this could have been prevented, had the agency been a bit more proactive! The difference between dicipline & punishment is, the first is something you teach a child, so they can eventually dicipline themselves by having rules & morals! Punishment is what is given when you aren't diciplined & break rules of civilized society! This mom was undiciplined in her punishment method, which is a sure way of escalating not decreasing a problem! She didn't know better, she wasn't given the education needed to care for this type of disorder! Kids with attatchment disorder have to first be taught to trust & bond with their caregiver, punishment only reinforces the childs distrust in adults & society in general! This kid is 6, he knows nothing of the world except that he can't trust it & his mom drove home the point! I'm glad they have therapy now, but it should have been mandatory from the beginning!!

    August 25, 2011 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Amanda

    Ok who every you two are god loves every one, so just stop !!! as for the child abuse come on people get a life she did not abuse that child hot sauce people eat all the time and is not bad for you , soap in the mouthe not good for you thats abuse . As for the cold shower would you rather her have got the belt out . but stop dont do that its child abuse now to ...So what the h... can we do talk to them come on thats really going to stop them did it work on you when you was 5!!!!!!!!!

    August 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Common Sense

    She got a fine that big and with no injures on the child? It should be against the law to not discipline your kids. Kids now days run around like animals. They rob, steal tagging on buildings etc. Darn if you do! Darn if you do'nt!

    August 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ...

      Wow, this is some sick country. Russia should not have resumed the adoptions, big mistake.
      Torture your American kids all you want but stop yanking them out of other countries to do so.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Reese

    This is not punishment its torture! The bible says that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us, with that said I believe that every parent or child carer should use punishment that is ethical and not extreme torture that the military uses on terrorist. This kid was only 7 years and it seems evident that this Alaskan woman had no connection to these children she is an unfit parent and these adopted boys need to be placed with a family that will love and care for them unconditionally. Its devastating to see a child tormented like this and this adoptive mother should be punished not only with gail time but every day her mouth should be filled with hot sauce and then the authorities should give her the ice filled tub to soak in. Children need to be disciplined not punished and especially tortured!

    August 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cone of Mediocracy

    Alernative Sauce and Does God love....is the same nasty-minded person. His words ARE meaningless. God would never turn his back on you. This bozo would.The Cone of Mediocracy says so.

    August 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Reese

    This is not punishment its torture! The bible says that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us, with that said I believe that every parent or child carer should use punishment that is ethical and not extreme torture that the military uses on terrorist. This kid was only 7 years and it seems evident that this Alaskan woman had no connection to these children she is an unfit parent and these adopted boys need to be placed with a family that will love and care for them unconditionally. Its devastating to see a child tormented like this and this adoptive mother should be punished not only with gail time but every day her mouth should be filled with hot sauce and then the authorities should give her the ice filled tub to soak in. Children need to be disciplined not punished and especially not tortured!

    August 25, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Rich

    What I don't understand is why these poor kids have not been taken away from this witch and entrusted to some person or couple who really loves and wants a kid in their lives.

    August 25, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Judy

      Because she need some money to pay college tuition for her kids sorry she has to spend some for three sheets of blue paper I hope is not e case

      August 30, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. chillipepper

    Back in the 80's a girfriend of mine used to make her kids bite a jalapeno when they said a curse word or talked back. Rarely had to do it as they were great kids. The Mom raised them well.

    August 25, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • g.g. vanbilt

      before public judges her – check out r.a.d. kid.org- the boy had R.A.D. reactive attachment disorder- we have 2 adoptive kids with it- she needed help-that child needs her – it s bad stuff-RAD-

      August 26, 2011 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. Reese

    i disagree that hot pepper is the right way to discipline children, its inhumane. Would u, Mr. chillipepper put a jalapeno in your mouth every time u cursed? I think u need to really question your ethics...
    This is abusive not only to a children but also to an animal, i fine it very hard to accept this sort of abusive punishment as normal and we as a society need to stand against these horrendous behaviors to make our world a better place. You wouldn't keep a rotten potato with a bag of good ones because it will ruin the whole bag, therefore we cannot and should not agree with this Alaskan Mother child's abuse. We need to recognize it and stop it before continues in another home. The reality is that this kid could of died bathing in an ice cold tub.. When u listened to the video he screamed in terror because of the torment was being enforced on him by the person who agreed to nurture, protect and love him.. Is this right in the eyes of God?

    August 25, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. OB

    This woman is sick – she went on the show not understanding what she did was TORTURE.

    Ppoor water on dtainies – it is considred torture. But if " loving and caring " parent put a kid under ice cold shower for good knows how long – that is considered discipline ????? Something has to be wrong. A kid that has lived his whole life in orphanage needs 10 times more patience love and care – and not to be treated like an animal that has to obey. This one and her husband is quilty !!!!! Her husband has to be on the trial too, he knew what was going on. I am sure that this is the tip of the ice berg. Hope she will get a taste of her own medecine in jail – literally speaking.
    I am pretty sure that the kid has been removed from the family – correct me if I am wrong

    August 25, 2011 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Reese

    OB according to the media broadcast the authorities found no reason to remove the twin boys from the home...
    I personally believe that the film seen on Doctor Phil show was enough evidence to remove the boys.

    Also can someone please tell me why did the directors on Doctor Phil show did not give the tape to the authorities upon viewing this horrific incident? Why did he choose to let the members his audience go to the relevant authorities? Doctor Phil owes the world a response on his actions in this matter as a specialist that decided to air the graphic contents and invite the Alaskan mother on his prime time show and since his show was televised for a global audience and we the
    people demand answers!

    August 26, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
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