In Washington state a Christian homeschooling couple received maximum prison sentences allowable under the law after being found guilty of beating and starving their adopted daughter to death in accord with Biblical based parenting techniques.
Superior Court Judge Susan Cook showed no mercy to Larry and Carri Williams, found guilty of causing the tragic death of their adopted daughter, Hana, by using Biblical based parenting techniques found in the controversial child-rearing book, To Train up a Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl.
Cook sentenced Carri Williams to 37 years in prison. Her husband Larry, convicted of lesser charges, was sentenced to just under 28 years. Both terms are well above the standard sentencing range.
Cook said, “I feel the punishment should match the outrage felt by this community. I am at a complete loss. I think at some point in this trial each and every one of us sat stunned and speechless without the slightest hope of making any sense of this whatsoever.”
Last September a jury found Larry Williams guilty of first-degree manslaughter, and his wife, Carri Williams, guilty of homicide by abuse as well as manslaughter. The couple adopted Hana, 13, from Ethiopia in 2008.
Hana’s death was consistent with a corporal punishment style advocated by many Christian extremists, and memorialized in the controversial book, To Train Up A Child. According to reports, Hana was beaten and starved as part of a regimen of corporal punishment subscribed to by many Christian homeschoolers and other Christian fundamentalists.
The New York Times reports that the couple's abusive parenting tactics mimicked instructions from the Christian parenting book. Evidence presented at trial indicated Carri Williams had repeatedly beaten Hana with a plastic tube - a device recommended in the book.
To Train Up A Child advocates using a plumbing tool to beat children with starting at age one. The book also advocates giving children cold water baths, putting children outside in cold weather, and forcing them to miss meals, as well as beating them; all of which exemplifies the abuse investigators said Hana endured.
The book is also linked to the deaths of at least two other children, four-year-old Sean Paddock of North Carolina and seven year-old Lydia Schatz of California. In each case, punishment techniques advocated by the controversial Christian parenting manual were used.