The Christian Post reports that the Change.org petition (asking Amazon to stop selling the controversial book, To Train Up A Child) is closing in on 100,000 signatures. They then take a closer look at the Pearls’ teachings and the controversy surrounding them.
Michael Pearl says that his teachings are Biblical. Lee Woofenden does not agree and he explains why in his post, To Train Up A Child, or: Spare the Rod? What Rod? This is a long article and worth the read. He points out, among other things, that Mr. Pearl is actually teaching parents to condition their children which is not Biblical.
Maureen has an update on the Williams, just to tie up loose ends.
Tuesday October 29, 2013, the Williams were sentenced to prison for a very long time. Carri has been sentenced for 37 years and Larry for almost 28 years.
Cindy Kunsman, of Under Much Grace, responds to Judge Cook’s comment, “I am at a complete loss as to why this happened,” in An Open Message to Judge Susan Cook About the Williams’ Sentencing: The Development of the Perfect Storm, in which she attempts to explain why.
After the sentencing, the Ethiopian Community Center had a graveside service for Hana. (More about the graveside service.) They are working on getting a proper headstone for her grave. So far, they have not been successful because the family owns the plot so they are considering making a memorial elsewhere. For more information on that, see the Facebook Group.
I should also mention that this might not be the last we hear of this story as there has been talk of an appeal.
Here are some news stories:
Skagit County couple sentenced to prison for adopted daughter’s death in the Seattle Times.
Couple given long sentences for death of adopted girl on King 5 News which includes video from the sentencing. In this video we see a family friend speaking on the Williams’ behalf calling them “two of the truest and purest people on this earth.” I find that statement so flabbergasting that I don’t even know how to respond to it.
Religious Handbook Parents Carri and Larry Williams Given 65 Years for Killing Ethiopian Daughter in the UK Paper, the International Business Times.
According to recent news stories, Larry Williams’ Lawyers are trying to get him a new trial and/or a short sentence. The sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct 29, 2013.
Here is the story in the Skagit Valley Herald which discusses them requesting a new trial. (Clicking on this story will add a cookie to your browser to ensure that you only view 5 such stories in any 30 day period.)
Here is the story on Kiro TV which discusses them asking for a sentence of only 5 years (with 2 years credit for time served) because he had no idea what his wife was doing while he was away at work.
Also, Carri’s lawyers want her Manslaughter conviction dropped, since she was charged for the more serious crime, according to this story in the Skagit Valley Herald. (Clicking on this story will add a cookie to your browser to ensure that you only view 5 such stories in any 30 day period.)
In case anyone was worried about how Carri Williams is faring in jail, the Skagit Valley Herald reports that she is being kept safe in one of the Work Release pods. This was an upgrade from the Solitary Confinement cell she was in before, as they are not healthy to use for long term use. It’s nice to know that they are doing their best to be as humane as possible while she is paying the price for accidentally torturing her daughter to death. Maybe she will start to understand the concept of grace, (unmerited favor.)
Meanwhile, Larry has been in custody for 2 years and the article does not mention what protective measures they have been using to keep him alive, but one must assume that they are in place.
Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct 29.
The Skagit Valley Herald has an article (Subscriber Content) which states that Prosecutors have dropped the charge of Homicide By Abuse against Larry Williams. Those who were following the trial may remember that the jury was deadlocked on that charge and were unable to return a verdict for it. The charge was officially dropped on Sept 23.
Sentencing was originally scheduled for Oct 8, but it has been postponed until Oct 29 at 9:30 AM.
Mareen also writes about this, here.
The Seattle Times also has an article here.
As I reflect with sorrow and horror at the tragedy which was the Williams Trial, I find myself trying to make sense of what happened and why.
What I see as the root problem is pride. The Bible says that God hates pride. We know that “pride goeth before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18). I believe that very few people would argue with me when I say that Carri Williams had a problem with pride. I heard her described as a person who had to be always right. She was said to have perfect children. People described her as intimidating because her children were so perfect. I was told that when someone disagreed with her, they had a hard time confronting her because she had a reputation for a very cutting tongue. So, when people had concerns about how she was raising her children, they just withdrew away from her and left her alone. What else could they do? She would not listen, and she certainly would not accept help.
I’m not sure how and when she found To Train Up A Child by Michael Pearl. [Read more…]
Monday, September 9, 2013 the jury returned the verdict. Carri Williams was found guilty of homicide by abuse and
first-degree assault of a child. Larry Williams was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault of a child. There was no verdict on homicide by abuse charge for Larry. The jury was unable to agree and/or the judge declared a mistrial on that charge. Sentencing is up to the judge and I heard that it would be in mid-October.
Here is the story in the Seattle Times.
Certainly, there will be many articles written on this story. In an effort to get this breaking news to you right away, I will post this now and add in a few links to the best articles as I find them.
Here is Maureen’s report.
Here is the story on KiroTV.
Here is the story on Komo News. In this story I found out that Larry’s Defense plans to file an appeal.
Here is the story in the US edition of The Guardian which appears to be an overseas paper.
Here is Janet Heimlich’s report of the story on her blog, Religious Child Maltreatment.
Today, Wednesday, Sept 4, 2013 the Prosecutor and Defense for Larry Williams gave their closing arguments. As always, anything to do with this trial has a serious *trigger warning* and the closing arguments are no exception. In fact, I can’t stress enough how disturbing this whole thing is. I am having a hard time figuring out how to summarize without triggers. All I can say is that the jury was told how the charges work and given instructions on their options of what they can determine. By factoring in different degrees of the charges, they have over a dozen options. The closing arguments are a summary of what was shown and what each attorney wants the jury to decide. One of the Prosecutor’s remarks was that they wanted to kill Hana’s spirit and her pride. Very, very true.
Here is an article about the Prosecutor’s closing arguments in the Skagit Valley Herald.
And here is a more in depth article in the Skagit Valley Herald which covers the whole day.
Here is the story on Komo News.
Here is the story on KiroTV.
Here is Maurine’s report on the instructions to the jury and closing remarks by the Prosecutor. Here is a quote from it:
Mr. Weyrich discussed the various experts who have commented on Hana’s age, noting that most put her at 15 years old, via teeth and bone analysis. (The jury needs to believe she was under 16 for the more serious charge of homicide by abuse to stand.)
And here is Maurine’s report on the closing arguments from the defense team of Larry Williams. I will summarize it with this one quote:
Larry just didn’t know all that was going on, Ms. Forde said several times. “The evidence is overwhelming,” she said, that “Carri Williams designed, planned, and implemented” all that happened in their home.
And here is a quote which I find very interesting:
Why did this happen? Because Larry and Carri were unprepared, said Ms. Forde. They were both naive. They thought Hana and Immanuel would respond to the same disciplinary tactics that their other children had, and they didn’t foresee the mental health problems of older, internationally adopted children.
This ties in with what I suspected from the moment I found out that they were following Pearl’s teachings. My only quibble is that the adopted children did not have mental health problems. Quite the contrary. It was the biological children who were raised to accept the abuse and had been mentally broken down with Stockholm Syndrome. The adopted children were sane enough to recognize abuse and resist it.
Tuesday August 27, 2013 saw both Joshua and Larry Williams take the stand. Maureen covers both stories in great detail in 2 separate posts.
Here is Maureen’s post about Joshua who is the Williams oldest child. He is 19 or 20 and is in the Army, serving in Korea. His testimony was focused on if he had heard his parents arguing and if Larry was really the boss of the household. At first he said that he was but it appears that at some point things changed. In this post is the beginning of Larry’s testimony. He admits to feeling ashamed and responsible because he did not intervene.
Here is Maureen’s post about the rest of Larry’s testimony. He said that every decision was Carri’s. He had decided that the discipline was not working and wanted her to change but she would not. When asked why he didn’t take things into his own hands, he explained that he wished that he had but Carri had him convinced by her track record that she knew what she was doing. He also went into the whole story of how and why they adopted the children and how the harsh discipline started.
Here is the story in the Skagit Valley Herald.
Here is the story on KiroTV.
Wed, August 21,2013 saw Immanuel’s foster mother on the stand. KiroTV has that story (not for the sensitive.) Interestingly, Defense brought up that Imanuel had been abusive towards the foster mother’s daughter. I guess they are trying to prove that he is just a bad child, but what they really proved is that he was abused. (How that works is graphically illustrated by this powerful and triggering Ad Campaign from Mexico. )
Here is the story from the Skagit Valley Herald which discusses foster mother’s testimony as well as the issues which were brought up in regards to Immanuel’s first interviews after Hana’s Death. The defense asserts that interviews planted ideas in the “highly suggestible” boy’s head. She seems to forget that the testimony of the biological children backed up pretty much everything that Immanuel said.
Here is a large, comprehensive story in the British Newspaper, The Daily Mail.
As usual the testimony for Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013 is not for the sensitive. The sheriff who interviewed Carri just hours after Hana’s death took the stand and played a recording of the interview. Carri was not emotional and the big headline of the day is that she blamed Hana for her own death. She also told the sheriff that Hana was the healthiest person in the family. Apparently, the fact that Hana had lost 30% of her body weight did not raise any red flags with her. She also, apparently, forgot about Hana’s Hepatitis B (the reason they give for making her use a port-a-potty.)
The other development of the day was that Larry William’s Defense tried to subpoena the Prosecuting Attorney, Rich Weyrich, as a witness. The reason for this was that when Hana’s cousin (who was flown in to testify about Hana’s age) missed his flight back to Ethiopia, Rich Weyrich took evidence out of his hotel room and kept it for 3 days before turning it in. As prospective witnesses are not allowed to be in the courtroom, this would have made him unable to act the part of Prosecuting Attorney. The judge ruled that the evidence in question had nothing to do with the case and did not allow him to be barred from the courtroom.
Here is the story from the Skagit Valley Herald. Updated: Here is another story with much more info. It also goes into the testimony of a church member who fosters the Williams children for a while and how one of the older boys did not allow his little sister to go swimming because he found the one piece swimsuit to be too revealing. Incredibly enough, she stated that the same boy had said that Hana was fat.
And here is the story from KiroTV.
For more details, live as it happens, check out #Williamstrial on Twitter. You will probably want to click “All.” It took me a while to notice that and I was only seeing “Top.”
Also, Maureen has a post about the article in the Seattle Times which includes a wrap up of Immanuel’s testimony.
Today, August 16, 2013, Joseph Williams (16) took the stand. He had a really hard time remembering things and got very emotional. Testifying against their parents is so very hard for these children. This is where I see a big difference between the Williams parents and the Schatz parents. The Schatz parents accepted a plea bargain partly in order to spare their children from testifying, according to this article in the Chico Enterprise Record. The other reason for accepting the plea bargain was to make sure that Mrs. Schatz served a shorter sentence. The prosecutor believed that the jury would not have found Mrs. Schatz guilty of murder as she was clearly under her husband’s control. However, in the article, it is clear that Mrs. Schatz is very remorseful. What a contrast with Mr. and Mrs. Williams! I have seen no remorse from the Williams’, nor compassion for their children. On top of that, they have different lawyers and do not quite appear to be on the same team.
Here is the story from Kiro TV. Again, this is hard to watch and is not for the very sensitive.
Here is the story from the Skagit Valley Herald. Heartbreaking. The infractions for which the adopted children were punished is just unbelievable. The idea of of a child in a family “stealing food” is just foreign to me.
Also, today was the first time a witness had been asked about the book, To Train Up A Child, by Michael and Debi Pearl. Joseph said that they had the book, but he had not read it.
Also, Judge Susan Cook has given up on any predictions for a end to the trial and told the jury to be prepared to be there through the 2nd week of September.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports on the court session of Aug 7, 2013. It is pretty much more of the same. The only new info seems to be that Carri would play the audio Bible for Hana while she was locked in the closet in an effort to change her thinking. I don’t even know how to respond to that. Using the Word of God as part of a torture cannot be a good thing.
This article says that Hana’s biological cousin was set to testify this afternoon. A tweet from Gina Cole told us that his interpreter was MIA and his testimony had to be postponed until Thursday, Aug 8.
Here is the story on KiroTV.
Maureen takes a close look at the Williams Adoption Case in Case Study, Part 1: The Williamses’ Adoption Agency
I would like to make note that I added a very interesting (while disturbing) article to yesterdays post in case you missed it. The thing which I found so interesting was that while Immanuel was being questioned, the defense lawyers were asking him leading questions and when he would deny something, they would act as if he had not denied it. I sure hope that the jury made note of that.
The Skagit Valley Herald report for the morning of Tues Aug 6, is not for the faint of heart. One of the biological daughters describes exactly what happened on the night that Hana died and I believe that her testimony is going to turn out to be very instrumental in proving that Carri guilty of homicide by abuse.
Here is the story (with video) from KiroTV. This story tells us that the daughter testifying is Sarah. It also tells us that the sons who were planning to take the 5th amendment have been given immunity and will testify which kind of contradicts the article in the Skagit Valley Herald which only says that they might be offered immunity.
Immanuel returned to testify this afternoon but the only information I have found about that is these 2 tweets from Gina Cole.
Adopted Williams son back on the stand now. He says he only got to participate in one Christmas in three years at the home. #Williamstrial
— Gina Cole (@Gina_SVH) August 6, 2013
Lots of squabbling by attorneys over terminology used by sign language interpreters, especially “spanking” vs. “beating.” #Williamstrial
— Gina Cole (@Gina_SVH) August 6, 2013
Edited to add: A new article by the Skagit Valley Herald has been posted which has more info. Note that this article is Subscriber Content and will count as one of the 5 free articles we are allowed each month. I have read many lately which did not, and have not quite figured out the whys and wherefores of that.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports on Friday’s Court Session in the Williams’ Case. Please be aware that this is very hard to read and steel yourself before reading. If you are sensitive to abuse triggers, you might want to forgo this link as well as the rest of the links in this blog post.
Here is a report and video from Kiro 7 TV.
John Hutson is a retired Attorney for the Navy and Marines who has spent 12 years studying torture and has testified before congress on the subject numerous times. He was the only witness on the morning of Friday Aug 2, 2013. Larry Williams’ lawyers questioned his qualifications since his expertise was in military and international situations, but the judge allowed his testimony providing he did not try to give a legal definition of torture. He submitted a 3 page report based on hundreds of pages of information provided to him beforehand, admitting that he did not read every word. His testimony in a nutshell was that the 2 children were unquestionably tortured. It was not a close call, there were no doubts in his mind and there were no two ways about it.
The afternoon saw the testimony of various people who knew the Williams family. They testified about things like how Carri disciplined her children (both what they saw and what she told them,) the plastic tubing which she used as a “spanking rod,” how Larry would prevent Immanuel from signing with a deaf man at church and how Hana got thinner and changed her behavior over the 3 years.
Then Detective Dan Luvera of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office testified about how he collected the evidence and took photos after Hana died. He showed them everything and discussed the autopsy, which he watched.
There is talk about some of the Williams’ biological children testifying on Monday.
Here is Maureen’s Report for Aug 2, 2013. She gives a lot of details of Mr. Hutson’s testimony about what constitutes torture and motivations for torture. I must share this important quote from Maureen’s report:
Mr. Hutson: That said, it doesn’t matter what the motivation is for torture. There may be an excuse, but there is no justification. To me, this is the heart of the entire day, if not the entire case.
Komo News reports on what happened in court on August 1, 2013. Immanuel gives more testimony of the horrid and dehumanizing treatment he suffered in the Williams home. I must note that while the article says that the Williams have 3 biological children who did not suffer the same abuse, the truth is that they have 7 biological children who did not suffer the same abuse.
Also, a family friend testified that Carri had complained about hana’s lack of obedience and frequent spankings.
And here is Maureen’s report which gives us a lot more heart wrenching detail. She also discusses the issue of the older Williams boys testifying or taking the fifth.
Maureen tells us about a new witness, John Hutson, “…an expert about torture and interrogation techniques. He has testified many times before Congress and elsewhere.” So far, all he has testified to are his credentials. The judge has approved him, so he will no doubt return.
Updated to add: I just found this story and video from KiroTV.com which reports that they showed jurors the video of Hana taken before the adoption and picture taken shortly before her death. Quite the contrast. 🙁
I notice that everyone else is calling Thursday the 5th day of the trial. I started counting on the first day of Jury Selection which adds 4 days to my count.
Here is the link to Maureen’s report for Wednesday, July 31, 2013. As usual, any potential witnesses and jurors should stay away from both this site and hers. I will include a very brief summary below for the faint of heart and the time-strapped.
Here is a report from Tadias.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013 was taken up with the testimony of Julia Peterson, Immanuel’s Therapist. She is deaf, as is Immanuel, and testified with the help of two hearing interpreters. She began working with Immanuel in Dec 2011.
Ms. Peterson testified that Immanuel was very fearful of making mistakes and that he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD.) The defense lawyers tried to get her to agree that it was possible that his PSTD came from trauma he suffered in Ethiopia, but she was very firm that it came from the trauma which he suffered at the hands of the Williams. The defense lawyers also tried to get her to agree to hypothetical statements which she refused to do.
Yesterday, Monday July 29th, was Immanuel’s first day of testimony. He is scheduled for 3 half days. Here are the reports I have found so far for that day.
Komo News reports on Immanuel’s testimony.
Also, someone who apparently knows the family attempts to explain what happened in this comment. Edited to note that the comments have been stripped from this article.
Kiro TV reports on Immanuel’s Testimony in Boy tells jury his adopted parents beat him until he bled. From the video which accompanies this story, I found out that they played the 911 call in court today and that Immanuel will testify for 2 more days. As usual, this story/video is not for the sensitive because of child abuse triggers.
Edited to add: Maureen has finally posted her report of yesterday’s testimony. This is a hard case to watch and I’m not at all surprised that she was not ready to post last night. While not easy to read, I think that all but the most sensitive could handle it. She does mention upsetting things, of course so those with abuse triggers should probably stay away from this case entirely (as should any jurors and potential witnesses.)
Maureen starts her report today with a warning for prospective witnesses and all jurors to abstain from reading her blog. I must agree with her and include this blog in that restriction. There is a LOT here which is off limits for witnesses and jurors, and it is best to err on the side of caution.
She then went on to discuss the courts reaction to her blog which must have given her quite the adrenaline rush. I can only imagine. Then the motions of the morning and on to the opening statements.
I will now make a disclaimer that the sensitive should probably not read the opening statements. In fact, the entire case is very upsetting. This case is a very upsetting and disturbing case and not for the faint of heart. For that reason, I will attempt to keep you up to date without giving you the gory details.
The Prosecution gave opening statements in which they outlined the deplorable treatment of Hana and Immanuel. They started out treating them fine but when their behavior did not meet the Williams’ standards, they escalated their treatment from bad to worse. Their punishments were cruel and abusive by pretty much anyone’s definition.
Carri’s Defense Lawyer made opening statements in which he explained how Carrie had tried to get Hana back into the house and warmed up but was unable to. While admitting that her discipline was excessive, he asked if it was “substantial bodily harm.” I’m not positive, but I believe that means that he was questioning if it was the discipline which caused her death. As I understand it, that is the real question. He then went on to respond to many of the prosecution’s points.
Larry’s Defense Lawyer described Larry’s role in the family and how the family worked. They had a large family and a lot of rules. They were starting to doubt the effectiveness of spanking as it did not seem to be working during the last year as the two adopted children had become very oppositional. She went on to discuss the issues of knowing Hana’s exact age and blamed Hana’s weight loss on medical issues beyond the Williams’ control.
A large part of Larry’s defense seems to be that he was not around that much and that Carrie was in charge of most of the running of the house while he was working to provide for the family. He was not even home the night that Hana was dying. Oh, and he gave them ice cream once. That was apparently a very important point since she reminded them of that again at the end as she urged them to find him not guilty.
Now, here are some news stories about the trial today. Again, these links are not for the faint of heart.
Well, Maureen faithfully posted yesterday’s events late last night. Words cannot express how impressed I am by both her reporting and her dedication. She reports that the jury has been selected and sworn in. She also mentions the scores of motions which have been brought before the court and promises more details about them this weekend. Today (Friday) there were motions in the morning and opening statements were scheduled for this afternoon. She promises to be there for the opening remarks and I do not doubt that she will post about them as soon as she is able.
Google tells me that the Skagit Valley Herald has an article about yesterday which I will not read as I have clicked on too many of their links already this month. (I don’t know why they don’t warn you before allowing you to land on the page and use up one your 5 monthly views. I never would have chosen to read them if I had been given the choice as they were old articles but I was on Twitter where you can’t see what you are clicking on.)
The Seattle Times reported on the trial of Larry and Carri Williams which begins today with jury selection. I will be posting updates as once a day, editing the daily post as I add new information to each day.
Update: Komo News reports that jury selection has begun and gives a recap of events up to now.
The Skagit Valley Herald reports on the Pre-Trial Hearing for the Hana Alemu “Williams” case.
This article has some very interesting information. It appears that the Defense had made quite a few motions, all of which were denied by the judge. It also turns out that there is now a biological relative available to testify to Hana’s true birth date. The trial is scheduled to proceed on Monday, July 22, 2013.
According to an article in the Skagit Valley Herald, prosecutors in the Williams court case are seeking Hana Alemu’s uncle to testify to verify her age. Her body was exhumed for that purpose, but the examination proved to be inconclusive. The reason they need her age is that the charge they are trying to prove is only valid for children under 16 years of age.
I should mention that in the Remembrance of Hanna Williams group on Facebook there is a scan of Hana’s Baptismal Certificate as well as a higher quality version a member fixed. I should also mention that Hana was born on March 8, 1997 (1/8/1989 according to the Ethiopian Calendar which is different from ours.) She died on May 12, 2011.
According to a recent news story in the Skagit Valley Herald, Hana “Williams” will not rest in peace. The court has granted the prosecutors permission to exhume Hana’s body in order to prove her age. This is important because the charge of homicide by abuse only applies to victims under 16 years of age. According to a scanned baptismal certificate on the Remembrance of Hanna Willams Facebook page, Hana was born on March 8, 1997 (1/8/1989 according to the Ethiopian Calendar which is different from ours.) In this same hearing, Larry and Carri Williams pled not guilty to the new charges of manslaughter by domestic violence which I assume was added to the case for back up in just in case prosecutors are unable to prove homicide by abuse.
Linda Thomas has a very good synopsis of the case at MyNorthWest.com.
Also, Q13 Fox Seattle Tacoma also has a write up of the case.