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Domestic CP - October 2003

Corpun file 12038

Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tennessee, 4 October 2003

Parental corporal punishment questioned

By Associated Press

A Tennessee Supreme Court justice questioned whether corporal punishment is still a parental right after a Red Bank child abuse case was overturned in a decision released Thursday.

Justice Adolpho A. Birch also said juries need more guidance in reconciling a parent's right to inflict reasonable corporal punishment, assuming that right still exists, with child abuse laws.

Anderson Toliver was sentenced to nine years in prison for two counts of aggravated child abuse of his 16-year-old stepson after whipping the boy with a braided heavy-duty extension cord, according to court records.

The boy, only identified as G.S., said in testimony at trial that the "beatings" progressed from a braided telephone cord to a braided extension cord that sometimes had wire woven into it and was wrapped with duct tape.

The boy called authorities after an April 1998 incident, and Red Bank police charged Toliver with abuse. At trial, the judge consolidated the indictments.

In a 4-1 decision, Chief Justice Frank F. Drowota said the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's verdict, but the consolidation of the indictments in conjunction with the "erroneous admission of evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts, affirmatively appears to have affected the verdict of the jury."

But Birch, in a concurring opinion, wrote he was concerned with "whether in today's society a parent's right to corporally chastise a refractory child survives, and, if so, how does one reconcile that right with the child abuse statutes as currently written and interpreted."

Birch wrote that he hoped his opinion could help serve as a guide to instruct juries in future child abuse cases.

"I have no quibble with the jury's conclusion that the defendant's conduct transcended the bounds of reasonable discipline," he said. "The jury, however, must be instructed (when applicable) concerning the right of a parent to punish and to control the child, and this right includes the right to inflict reasonable corporal punishment.

"This assumes, of course, that the right still exists."

Justice E. Riley Anderson dissented, saying that the trial court's consolidation was fair and the admissions of other evidence didn't affect the jury's verdict.

The case, State of Tennessee v. Anderson Toliver, was remanded for a new trial.

Copyright 2003, KnoxNews. All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 12260

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 8 October 2003

Coroner candidate's cousins called 911 after 'swats'

By Josh Noel
Advocate staff writer


Advocate staff photo by Travis Spradling


Two adult cousins of coroner candidate Jerry Sanders told sheriff's deputies last year that Sanders sometimes paddles their buttocks in return for rent and tuition money, but Sanders said Tuesday that he only paddled them as punishment for misdeeds.

According to a report by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office, the deputies responded to a 911 call at Sanders' south Baton Rouge home last November, where his two cousins -- both in their early 20s -- said they had gone to receive their latest round of "swattings," as they called the practice.

One of the men was quoted in the report as saying Sanders had shoved him after the man refused to masturbate while being videotaped.

Sanders, who has been deputy coroner since 1998, said Tuesday that he did paddle one cousin that day, but never touched the one who claimed he was told to masturbate and then was shoved.

"That was obviously absurd," Sanders said of the masturbation request allegation.

Political consultant Gary Weiner said Sanders would hold a 4 p.m. news conference today, but would not reveal the topic.

Sanders' cousins, Garry Williams, 22, of Memphis, and Frederick Murphy, now 24, of Nashville, did not return several phone calls.

However, on Tuesday, Sanders produced faxed documents that he said are notarized statements by his cousins. The document that bears Murphy's name says there was no "inappropriate behavior." The other, bearing Williams' name, says, "I had made a mistake lying about the whole incident."

Sanders said original copies of those documents would be available today.

Sanders, a Democrat, finished first in Saturday's primary in a four-man race for East Baton Rouge Parish coroner. He will face Republican Shannon Cooper in the Nov. 15 runoff.

"I still plan to win this race," he said.

According to the Sheriff's Office report, the cousins said they arrived from Tennessee on the afternoon of Nov. 26 knowing that they would receive "swattings." For almost four years, Williams is quoted as saying in the report, they had consented to the practice in exchange for Sanders paying their rent, bills and college tuition.

Sanders confirmed Tuesday that he does pay for each man's college tuition and has bought cars for them.

According to the report, Williams and Murphy said they arrived at Sanders' home near Siegen Lane and Bluebonnet Boulevard about 4 p.m. on the day of the alleged incidents.

Murphy told deputies that Sanders sent his cousin to buy light bulbs, and after a brief chat, led Murphy to his bedroom, the report says.

Murphy told deputies he (Murphy) pulled down his pants and "Jerry hit him with a piece of wood 10 times across the buttocks," the report says.

On Tuesday, Sanders confirmed that he did strike Murphy "five or 10 times" on his buttocks.

"He had his clothes on," Sanders said. "I punished Frederick the way we've been doing it as a family for a while."

Both cousins were quoted in the report as saying that when Williams returned, Sanders sent Murphy to buy CDs.

Williams told deputies that, "Jerry told him to go into the bedroom ... he knew he was about to receive his 'swats,'" the report says.

Instead, Williams told deputies, Sanders put on a pornographic video, threw him a towel and told him to masturbate while Sanders recorded it, the report says.

Williams asked Sanders "if he was crazy," the report says, and tried to get up from the bed. He told deputies that Sanders pushed him back down.

Williams, according to the report, told deputies that he dressed and went outside to wait for Murphy, while Sanders prepared to go to a crime scene after a call from the Coroner's Office.

After Sanders left, Williams called 911, but hung up without saying anything, the report says. Authorities routinely go to homes even if people hang up after calling 911, and deputies went to Sanders' home that night.

Before Sanders returned, deputies questioned Williams and Murphy, the report said.

About 9:30 p.m., Sanders returned home.

"When I came back I saw two sheriff's officers at my house, and I didn't know what was going on," Sanders said Tuesday.

Deputies read Sanders his rights and detailed his cousins' allegations against him, the Sheriff's Office report says.

"Jerry (Sanders) stated that he pays for both (Williams') and Frederick's tuition, rent, bills, etc.," the report says. "Jerry further advised that (Williams) and Frederick only get 'swats' for failing a class or '(messing) up.'"

"Jerry stated that he used two pieces of board to paddle (Williams) and Frederick, and the paddling is done with the clothes on or has been done with (Williams) and Frederick naked," the report says.

Elsewhere, the report says that, "Jerry never made them participate, other than to threaten to cut off his financial assistance to them."

On Tuesday, Sanders denied several statements that deputies attributed to him in the report. He denied:

He uses more than once piece of wood to administer the swats. He said he only uses one.

That the number of swats is always prearranged.

That he has swatted them as many as 80 times.

That he swatted Williams and Murphy while they were naked.

"That is not what I told them that night," Sanders said of the deputies. "They hear a lot of what they want to hear."

Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Darrell O'Neal said the office stands by the deputies' report.

"We're standing behind the document," he said. "All they did was write down what they were told."

The report says Sanders' cousins planned to contact deputies if they wanted to file a charge of simple battery against Sanders for allegedly pushing Williams onto the bed.

"The report indicates that the investigating deputies were not recontacted," O'Neal said.

Sanders said Tuesday that he did not pressure his cousins to not pursue charges.

Since the campaign for coroner began, Sanders has had other legal troubles come to light.

Last week it was revealed that Sanders has been convicted of drunk driving in Savannah, Ga., eight years ago.

Sanders initially denied knowledge of police or court records, but on Tuesday, he confirmed that he was arrested for drunken driving in 1995.

He said he had just left a daiquiri shop, and that he was pulled over for the fourth time "for driving my new Lexus."

Earlier, Sanders also was found to have an outstanding bench warrant for his arrest stemming from a 2001 speeding ticket he said he did not pay and did not address in court.

Sanders has run with the support of Coroner Louis Cataldie, who is not seeking reelection after one full term.

"If I'd known all this crap was going to come up, I would have said from Day 1, 'Dr. Cataldie, let me think about it,'" he said about running for office.

Copyright 1992-2003, The Advocate, Capital City Press, All Rights Reserved.

blob Follow-up: 9 October 2003 - Coroner candidate defends swattings as 'tough love'

Corpun file 12177

The Spectator, Seattle University, Washington State, 9 October 2003

Today's children need old-school discipline

By Austin Burton

This was the type of story you made half-hearted, half-worried jokes about during the gang violence explosion of the mid-1990s and the wave of school shootings that began in the late-90s.

"Next thing you know," you said, "six-year olds are going to be packing guns."

In the case of Da'Joun Brice of Landover, Maryland, you'd be off by two years. The boy who fatally shot his older sister and critically wounded his brother on Sept. 27 is just four years old.

Details of the case have been slow to emerge, which should be expected since none of the witnesses have reached their 11th birthday.

What is known is that Da'Joun was at home with his three siblings, ages 10, seven and five, with no adults around. For some reason, either anger or curiosity, Da'Joun got a hold of his mother's boyfriend's .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun and approached his siblings with it. His 10-year old sister got the younger kids out of the house, but when Da'Joun fired, the bullet pierced the front door, passed through his seven-year old brother's back and into the chest of his five-year old sister, Kimberly, killing her.

When it comes to the blame game, the usual suspects are all there: television, video games, rap/rock videos and R-rated movies. The Internet gets a break only because a four-year old presumably can't do much with a computer. Usually, I'm the first one to dismiss anyone who blames these factors. But in this case I might have to agree.

When the school shooting epidemic hit its peak -- April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. -- everyone jumped on the Marilyn Manson/Basketball Diaries/Playstation bandwagon. Personally, I let it roll on by. By suggesting that rock musicians and Leonardo DiCaprio movies turned kids into killers, we were underestimating the intelligence of teenagers everywhere.

Besides, when I was little -- not even a teenager -- I watched plenty of R-rated movies, from Terminator to Boyz N Tha Hood. By middle school I had already listened to hours of Ice Cube, Too $hort, Dr. Dre and other gangsta rappers. I played first-person shooter video games as well as fighting games, from Duck Hunt to Mortal Kombat. I did all that, as well as played football (which rewards violent behavior) and watched pro wrestling and boxing.

It's not like I'm special, though. Millions of kids from my age group listened to the same (or worse) music, watched the same (or worse) TV shows and movies, and played the same (or worse) video games that the Columbine kids and every other kid who shot up their school had.

But when the shooter is a four-year old boy, the influences of what invades his senses can't be overestimated. Not only is he still in the "monkey see, monkey do" stage, he's not old enough to know what a bullet really does when it hits someone -- and that when you get shot, you don't come back for the sequel like Vin Diesel.

Again, it is unknown whether Da'Joun was mad at somebody or just curious. But if it was the former, where did someone so young learn that guns solve problems when you're angry? I don't remember seeing that on Nickelodeon or in Dr. Suess books, so I'm assuming he got it from something he shouldn't have been seeing in the first place.

It's hard to argue exactly what is age-appropriate when it comes to TV, movies, music and video games, and it is also hard to completely shelter children from things that aren't age-appropriate. TV stations provide a rating system (the "TV-14" or "TV-MA" box), but you only see that if you catch the very beginning of the program.

Yet common sense among channel-flippers everywhere says you can tell what shows or movies look like they have the potential for something too mature for young eyes. Example: anything with cops, a lot of nighttime scenes or Steven Seagal in it might not be something you want a small child watching. (I mean, Steven Seagal movies are bad enough without the violence.)

But you can't just blame the media or the entertainment industry. You have to blame the parents as well.

While I don't have a problem with a gun being in the home, leaving it in a place where a toddler can reach it is ridiculously negligent. I can understand a teenager figuring out how to get his parent's gun. But any adult who owns a gun should be able to deceive a little kid.

Part of it, though, is that parents aren't tough enough on their kids. In addition to being exposed to violent entertainment as a kid, I also got spanked (Some of us call them "whuppins").

I can't tell you exactly what a little corporal punishment does without doing a study, but I can tell you most kids I know who got spanked grew up with more respect for rules and authority than those who didn't.

And it's not like I'm Mr. Grady Otis Old School either, telling stories of walking to school six miles on my hands in the snow. I'm only 21 years old.

Kids don't get as many whuppins as they used to, primarily because society has made spanking less acceptable. In 2003, kids will call Child Protective Services if their parents raise a hand to them, whereas we just took what we had coming and learned from it. And as fewer kids get spankings, the kids seem to get worse.

School used to be safe when my age group was coming up. But that ended in the late-90s, and since Sept. 25 there have been five reported school shootings in the United States. These shootings have occurred as far away as North Carolina middle schools and as close as a Spokane, Wash., high schools. Two innocent kids have been killed and two of the gunmen have been shot by police.

I'm not saying that my age group was without problems. We definitely planted the seeds that have led to the way things are now, with more kids killing kids than ever.

However, you can argue that those seeds were planted because my age group got less spankings than the generation before us.

People need to get it out of their heads that spanking is such a horrible act. It is not abusive to spank children. It's just another -- and trust me, effective -- method of showing that breaking rules has consequences.

Maybe if more parents learned to responsibly dish out some pain to their kids now, they could spare everyone a lot of pain later.

Corpun file 12182

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 9 October 2003

Coroner candidate defends swattings as 'tough love'

By Josh Noel
Advocate staff writer

Deputy Coroner Jerry Sanders, who is running for coroner, addresses a news conference he called Wednesday to respond to allegations in a sheriff's report that he paddled two adult cousins.

Dr. Jerry Sanders said Wednesday that bad press may lead him to quit the race for parish coroner, but he also defended his use of what he deemed "tough love" -- paddling his adult cousins on the buttocks as punishment.

Two of Sanders' cousins filed a report with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office in November in which they claimed Sanders paddled one on his bare buttocks and asked the other to masturbate while being videotaped.

Sanders, deputy coroner since 1998, confirmed in an interview earlier this week that he did paddle a 23-year-old cousin that day, but said the man was fully clothed. He also denied asking the other cousin to masturbate or shoving the man after he refused.

He did not address specific passages of the report during a news conference Wednesday. About 25 people, most of them curious onlookers, attended the conference outside the Coroner's Office in the Governmental Building.

Sanders said in a prepared statement that the corporal punishment is part of an "agreement" with his cousins, for whom he said he pays college tuition and has bought cars.

"We established some ground rules, and they agreed," Sanders said. "If they did not live up to their bargain, then I would take action: cut off the financial support, take away the cars I bought them and yes, if it warranted ... I would paddle them."

When questioned by a reporter about the wisdom of paddling a grown man, Sanders, a psychiatrist, said one of his cousins had "very severe problems."

"We deal with these problems the best we can," he said. "I love my little cousins."

Sanders, a 40-year-old Democrat, finished first in Saturday's primary in a four-man race for East Baton Rouge Parish coroner. He faces Republican Shannon Cooper, a pathologist and lawyer, in the Nov. 15 runoff.

According to the sheriff's report, the cousins told deputies they had gone to Sanders' south Baton Rouge home on the afternoon of Nov. 26, 2002, to take their latest round of "swattings." They told deputies that Sanders swatted them in exchange for financial support.

Sanders said Wednesday that he paddled them only as punishment.

Just as he did earlier in the week, Sanders provided what he said are notarized statements from his cousins disavowing their claims in the sheriff's report.

Sanders said earlier this week that he asked for the statements after learning that members of the news media had acquired the sheriff's report.

In that interview, Sanders denied several passages of the sheriff's report, including statements attributed to him:

That he uses two pieces of wood to swat his cousins; he said he uses only one.

That the number of swats is always prearranged before his cousins arrive.

That he has swatted them as many as 80 times.

That he has swatted his cousins while they are naked.

When asked at the news conference whether he had paddled his cousins even once while they were naked, he got up and left.

"I'm done," he said, and walked back into the Coroner's Office.

Along with a copy of his statement, Sanders produced copies of a letter faxed from his opponent, Cooper, to Coroner Louis Cataldie on Wednesday. Cataldie, who is not seeking a second full term, has appeared in a television ad on Sanders' behalf.

In the letter, Cooper asks Cataldie for his endorsement.

"It is clear that the press interest in Dr. Sanders' personal life, as well as the coroner's race in general, will only escalate in the coming weeks, leading to further questions and negativity," Cooper wrote in the letter.

"I feel that your change in endorsement would send a clear and telling message to East Baton Rouge Parish about the standards you expect and enforce, both professionally and personally both now and upon your departure. Thus, I write to respectfully request your endorsement for my campaign (for) coroner of East Baton Rouge Parish."

Contacted Wednesday, Cooper said he didn't mind that Sanders had released the letter, and that he had spoken with Cataldie earlier in the day.

Cataldie did not indicate whether he would change his endorsement, Cooper said.

Cooper said he also hoped to hear from Cataldie that the coroner did not know of the sheriff's report when he endorsed Sanders.

"But I didn't hear that," Cooper said.

Cataldie did not return a phone message left at his house or respond to a page Wednesday evening.

"My only concern at this point is integrity of the office and whether it will be damaged in the public eye," Cooper said. "I'm not so concerned about Dr. Sanders right now."

In Sanders' statement Wednesday, he acknowledges his arrest for drunk driving in Savannah, Ga., in 1995. Two weeks ago, when first questioned about the arrest, he said he had no knowledge of a report that said he had been arrested for driving while drunk.

"I made a mistake that night and I have learned," he said in the statement.

He also responded to a report in The Advocate that a bench warrant has been issued for his arrest as a result of an unpaid speeding ticket.

"For the past several months I have tried to pay for this speeding ticket," he said. "But nobody could ever find the ticket. ... Where is the ticket?"

However, on Wednesday, a city-parish Web site still listed an active bench warrant for Sanders.

Copyright 1992-2003, WBRZ, Louisiana Broadcasting LLC and The Advocate, Capital City Press LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Corpun file 12259

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 10 October 2003

Sanders abandons race

Coroner candidate blames 'bad press'

By Josh Noel
Advocate staff writer

"To the people behind this cruel, malicious and evil attack, may God forgive you one day," Sanders said in the statement withdrawing from the race. "In your cold heart, I hope the end justifies the means."

Gary Weiner, a consultant with Sanders' campaign, said the deadline had passed to have the Sanders' name removed from the ballot. But even if Sanders wins, Weiner said, he will not accept the job.

He said Sanders, 40, will quit the Coroner's Office "soon."

Cooper, 59, hastily assembled a small news conference at the Radisson Hotel Thursday night to acknowledge his sudden election.

"This is a good outcome for the parish," he said while surrounded by a half dozen supporters, including his wife, Pam. "I am the best qualified for the position, so it was an inevitable outcome as I see it."

He did not address Sanders' situation until asked, but then only said, "I doubt there's been a coroner's race in this parish this exciting in 100 years."

Cooper said he has spoken with outgoing Coroner Louis Cataldie, who is not seeking re-election, several times during the last few days, and will meet with him today.

"I get the sense he wants the transition to be as quick as possible," Cooper said. "I'm ready to go."

He also said he anticipates most or all of Cataldie's staff members will keep their jobs.

Sanders, a Democrat, won Saturday's four-man primary with 37 percent of the vote. Cooper, a Republican, finished second with 27 percent.

Before the primary, Sanders was found to have had a DWI arrest in Savannah, Ga., in 1995, the existence of which he initially denied. He also has an active bench warrant from an unpaid speeding ticket.

But the greatest setback came from the sheriff's report, in which Sanders was quoted as saying that he sometimes paddled his cousins while they were naked, that he has paddled them as many as 80 times and that the number of swats they received was always prearranged.

Sanders denied making those claims.

Sheriff's deputies did not file a simple battery count against Sanders because Sanders' cousins never contacted deputies again. The count would have stemmed from Sanders allegedly pushing a cousin onto a bed after the cousin refused to masturbate.

Cataldie endorsed Sanders in the race, and appeared in a television commercial on his behalf.

Don Moreau, the chief investigator in the Coroner's Office, said sheriff's deputies contacted him a day after Sanders' cousins made their allegations.

Moreau said he called Cataldie the next day to let him know of the investigation, and that he was "somewhat surprised" when Cataldie endorsed Sanders despite the incident.

When he asked Cataldie how Sanders' situation would be handled, Cataldie said, "It has been handled," Moreau said.

"I said, 'Is he resigning?' He said, 'It's handled.' I said, 'That means it has gone away?' He said, 'It's handled.'"

Cataldie did not return several phone messages Thursday.

Moreau, who said he was attending a separate function in the Radisson Thursday night, was on hand for Cooper's press conference.

"If he wants me, I'll be looking forward to working with him," Moreau said.

Weiner, Sanders' political consultant, said he did not know what Sanders would do after leaving the Coroner's Office.

"One day, a long time from now, I will forgive you ... maybe," Sanders says in the statement announcing his withdrawal. "What you do not understand, you have hurt yourselves and the community more than you have hurt me. Congratulations on taking a step backwards ... congratulations on the short-term, hollow victory."

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