Jonathan Merritt has published an article about Michael and Debi Pearl on ReligionNews.com entitled, How Influential Are Michael and Debi Pearl? And How Harmful? He only found out about them recently but has apparently done his homework very well.
The Williams Court Case is in the news again. This story in The Komo News reviews what happened to Hana Alemu “Williams” and how charges came to be filed over a year ago and brings us up to date with where the case stands now. For more info about this case, please see my Hana Amelu “Williams tag.
According to this news story:
Hana’s death also plays a prominent role in a new report ordered by the governor’s office on the severe abuse of adopted children. The state doesn’t do any background checks or home checks on international or private adoptions, and is looking into standardizing those procedures.
The report referenced can be found here, but remember that as it discusses this case and other severe abuse cases, it is probably not for the faint of heart.
I do not have the recently released DSHS report, but I do have the very disturbing sheriff’s report which was released last year.
CBS has given the Pearls a chance to defend themselves in this news story. (If you don’t want to watch the video, most of the tex of t is in the link.)
We mustn’t forget Sean Paddock. </3
Former Pearl follower Becky, from Created To Be His, shares a letter she wrote explaining her concerns with the Pearls and their teachings. In this letter she also explains what these teachings have to do with the death of Lydia Schatz and includes quotes from the book.
Christianity Today Magazine has an article about Corporal Punishment in their January 2012 Issue which you might want to purchase. When and if they post it online, I will post a link to it. This article mentions Hana Alemu “Williams”, Lydia Schatz and Sean Paddock and the influence of To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl. It then goes on to discuss the spanking controversy and Professor William Webb’s book, Corporal Punishment In The Bible.
There is a discussion of the article on the Gentle Christian Mothers forum which contains a small quote.
Update: It has been posted here.
Jeff Hodson of the Seattle Times provides extensive coverage of the death of Hana Alemu “Williams” as well as the Pearls’ teachings in Did Hana’s parents ‘train’ her to death? I am grateful to see that this blog has a mention and a link in this article. Letters to the editor regarding that article are here.
Also, there is new story about Koko aka Lydia Schatz in All Voices.
ABC News has a story called Child’s Death Raises Questions About Biblical Disciplinary Teachings which includes testimony of someone who was raised under Pearls’ teachings and how it affected her under a video of the discussion of Pearls’ teachings on the View.
The NY Times story has spawned many blog posts and articles. Most of them are just brief summaries so I will not bother to link, but a number of them are worth a look.
Amy Graff of the San Francisco Chronicle posts Godly spanking turned deadly: Is a Tennessee pastor to blame?
Lorraine Dusky posts on the First Mother forum, Adopted children killed by their parents as they “train” them .
Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. of Baby Center posts Deadly abuse inspired by preacher’s “training” manual?
Koa Beck of Mommyish posts Parents Demand Abusive Childrearing Book Be Pulled From Amazon.
Allison Summers of The Christian Post posts Texas Judge ‘Beating Video,’ Child Rearing Book Spur Debate on Discipline Versus Child Abuse
and to balance it out they also published Evangelical Preacher Defends Child Training Methods Reportedly Linked to Deaths by Luiza Oleszczuk.
Margaret Hartman of Jezebel posts Pastor Still Advocates Using ‘The Rod’ After Third Child Dies
C.L. Dyck of Scita Scienda gives her Thoughts on the New York Times and Mike Pearl.
David Usborne of the New Zealand Herald posts Focus on preacher after children die.
There is an interesting discussion on the NY Times article in the Snopes.com forum. (If linking to this thread in anyway violates any forum rules, please message me at email@example.com)
Tony W. Cartledge of Baptist Today News Journal posts Spare the hose?
The Week.com summarizes the debate using many of the previous links in To Train Up A Child: The book that’s leading parents to kill?
Yep, the news is really going mainstream and people are talking about it, which makes for some Intense Conversations as Leslie in Costa Rica discovered and posted about on her blog, Real Child Development.
We have been following the story of Hana Grace Williams who was found dead outside her home last May. The only reason this story is of interest to this blog is that the Williams were known to be following The Pearls’ teachings with their children before they adopted Hana and her brother in 2008. Any link between this death and the Pearls’ Teachings is purely speculation and is covered in this post. To reiterate and clarify, the Pearls’ teachings do not appear to be directly responsible for this death. Pearls’ teachings do not recommend the kind of abuse which is described in the following articles which I will warn you now are tragic and very disturbing.
The parents, Larry and Carri Williams, have been arrested, charged with abuse leading to her to death ( as well as the abuse of her brother) and are being held on $500,000 bail. Here are links to news stories which report on this:
Couple arrested, charged with abusing child to death from Goskagit.com
Skagit County couple charged with death of adopted child from NWCN.com (which mentions To Train Up A Child and the plumbing line)
Murder charges for parents who left girl outside from The Seattle Times
Adoptive parents Carri and Larry Williams charged with Hana Williams’ death from Quipshots blog
I will remark that if you read the very disturbing sheriff’s report you will note that the Williams speak of rebellious behavior and when the child was clearly in distress they saw her as “pretending that she couldn’t stand or walk.” The adversarial mindset which they learned from the Pearls is a dangerous one and while a tenuous link indeed, it is still of interest to myself and other readers of this blog.
I would also suggest that the abuse of Hana’s 10 yr old brother does sound very much like what the Pearls teach, except that I doubt that the Pearls would suggest one punish a child for urinary leakage when there is a known medical cause or for not hearing when he is deaf. If you read that entire report you will see many of the Pearls’ teachings referenced, however, even I will admit that they took these teachings were taken to extremes which the Pearls did not intend.
Edited to add:
Washington state couple charged in adopted daughter’s death from Fox WXIN
This article contains an interesting quote:
The investigation into the Williams family, including whether the biological children were abused, was continuing, she added, adding that the process can take months.
As far as I could tell, they were following the Pearls’ teachings pretty closely with the biological children so if they should determine that they were abused, this could have serious implications.
CNN has done an exposeé on the Pearls’ teachings and has implicated them in the death of Lydia Schatz. This series features a close look at the Lydia Schatz case,an interview with Michael and Debi Pearl as well as an interview with D.A. Mike Ramsey who says that he blames the Pearl’s teachings for Lydia’s death.
Here is Part 1.
Here is Part 2.
Here is Part 3
You can find transcripts here including cut scenes.
They did not really explain why the Pearls’ teachings are implicated because they did not explain what these teachings are. This goes far beyond a simple spanking debate. I link to many articles which explain this and have been meaning to put it all together in one post. I thought I had done it here, but upon taking another look at it, I see that I was waiting until after the trial to flesh it out. I’ll put that on my to do list. Meanwhile, please look at my categories for The Pearls’ Teachings above and the sub categories, especially Counter Arguments. If you have time, check out posts which dig deeper into the Pearls’ teachings with in depth analysis. I hope that you will also find my tags helpful for narrowing down the information you seek.
Note, here are some quotes from To Train Up A Child by Michael Pearl, the book which started the controversy.
CBS did an investigative report about the Schatz and other child abuse stories.
They were sentenced to prison.
All mentions of the Schatz story can be found under my Schatz tag.
Here is a follow up about the Schatzes prison sentence from the Paradise Post. Note the quotes from Lydia’s older sister, Zariah, as well from as Elizabeth Schatz who apparently realized too late that they were on a “foolish path.” Entire article quoted here for permanence.
Paradise couple gets prison for fatal beatingFather gets two life termsPosted: 06/10/2011 12:06:11 PM PDT
A Paradise couple convicted of whipping an adopted daughter to death and injuring two other children was sentenced Friday to upper terms in state prison.Butte County Superior Court Judge Kristen Lucena sentenced Kevin Paul Schatz, 48, to serve at least 22 years of two life terms for second-degree murder and torture. Elizabeth Hazel Schatz, 44, was sentenced to serve 13 years, four months for voluntary manslaughter and infliction of unlawful corporal punishment.
Both Schatzes were also sentenced to six months in county jail for misdemeanor cruelty to a child. They were credited for time served.
Addressing the defendants, Lucena said their punishment for whipping their children for hours with a thin, 15-inch length of plumbing supply line was inappropriate. “No civilized society would tolerate that,” Lucena said.
The sentences were largely known in advance because of a plea bargain April 8. The couple had faced charges of first-degree murder and torture and two possible life sentences. Before the sentence was handed down a surviving adopted daughter, 12, addressed the court. With a soft-spoken voice that was often punctuated with tearful sobs, she said her 7-year-old sister, Lydia, meant the world to her and Lydia’s death really hurt.
“Why did you adopt her? To kill her?” the daughter asked.
The Schatzes were arrested after they called 9-1-1 after Lydia had stopped breathing on Feb. 6, 2010. A follow-up investigation by Paradise Police to the Schatz
residence found the other daughter in the house, limping.As part of a punishment for reportedly mispronouncing words, both girls had been whipped for hours by Kevin Schatz with the supply line. Elizabeth Schatz reportedly assisted. Lydia was whipped for about seven hours on Feb. 5, while her sister was punished for similar period the night before. A 10-year-old biological son was also injured.
The repeated whipping caused a breakdown in muscle tissue that severely damaged the girls’ organs.
Lydia was taken to the hospital but later perished from her injuries. The other daughter was hospitalized for similar injuries, but eventually recovered. The older daughter said she would ultimately forgive the Shatzes, but was confused by the actions and condemned their use of corporal punishment.
“I don’t know what I did to deserve what you did to me,” she said.
As the daughter made her statement, the Schatzes sat facing forward, not looking at the girl. They did sometimes bow their heads and wiped their faces. Earlier in the hearing, Elizabeth Schatz asked for the daughter’s forgiveness. She said Feb. 6, 2010, was the saddest day of her life because their actions killed a daughter, severely injured another and tore their family apart. She said she wished that they had paused to consider the repercussions of their actions.
“We surely would’ve deviated from the foolish path we ended up taking,” Elizabeth Schatz said.
Kevin Schatz apologized for what happened.
“I accept full responsibility for the injury and death of my two daughters,” he said.
Michael Harvey, Kevin Schatz’s attorney, said most people know it’s inappropriate to shake a baby, but few had heard of the medical condition that could be caused by the Schatz’s disciplinary method.
“This is a tragic case. It’s an example of trying to do the right thing in a wrong way,” Harvey said.
Kevin Sears, Elizabeth Schatz’s attorney, said the case was a tragedy and didn’t dispute the death or injury. However, he asserted the probation report wasn’t wholly accurate. In particular, he said the hours of whipping were interrupted with periods of prayer and reflection.
District Attorney Mike Ramsey said the Schatzes have often characterized their actions as inappropriate discipline, which he said showed a lack of insight. While acknowledging the death and injuries weren’t intentional, he said their actions, including the whippings and other punishments, were over the top.
“This was beating. This was torture. This was inhuman,” he said.
Kevin Schatz is ineligible for good conduct credits due to the murder conviction, meaning he will serve 22 years before being considered for parole. He was given credit for 310 days served in county jail. Elizabeth Schatz was credited for 387 days of jail time served and could earn an additional 670 days’ credit in prison.
From the Paradise Post quoted here for permanence.
Schatz’ sentenced to prisonFather gets to life termsPosted: 06/10/2011 12:06:11 PM PDT
The Paradise couple who were arrested February 2010 in the beating death of one child and severe beating of another, were sentenced to prison this morning.Kevin Schatz was sentenced to two life terms for second-degree murder and torture and will have to serve at 22 years. Elizabeth Schatz was sentenced to 13 years, four months for voluntary manslaughter and infliction of unlawful corporal punishment. They each were given six months in county jail for misdemeanor cruelty to a child but were credited for time served.
The prison terms were part of the plea bargain with prosecutors. Before pleading guilty to amended charges on April 8, the Schatzes were charged with first-degree murder and torture and had faced two life terms in prison.
The charges stem from the Feb. 4 and 5, 2010 whippings of adopted daughters Lydia Schatz, 7, and her then 11-year-old sister. A biological son was also injured. The Schatzes were using a method of discipline that involved whipping the children for hours with a 15-inch length of plumber’s supply line.
Lydia died of her injuries. The older girl required hospitalization but recovered.
In April 2007, the Schatz’ adopted three children from Liberia. At the time of that adoption, the Schatz had six biological children.
Cindy of Under Much Grace has posted part 5 of her series about First Time Obedience: Revisiting First Time Obedience: Finding New Alternatives
For your convenience I will paste here the links to the rest of the series along with her descriptions:
- A review of the submission required under multigenerational faithfulness as Vision Forum’s carryover from Bill Gothard’s submission teachings with various examples of this demand for unquestioned obedience without credulity. First post specifically examining “First Time Obedience” in young children.
- A review of the principle of sacerdotalism and parental convenience (as a control issue in dysfunctional families) as rationales for requiring “First Time Obedience” and “leaps of faith” required under multigenerational faithfulness.
- Review of the tendency to make every banal daily activity one of great eternal spiritual significance as a consequence of works-based salvation. Includes a discussion of viewing personality traits that do not fit the belief system’s paradigm as sinful as well as the building up of all gender related activities as sacramental for the impartation of inward sanctification.
Addendum to Part II (Spiritualizing All Activities)
- Blog host’s personal experience with inherent personality traits treated by parents as sin, the idolatry of seeking parental approval, and the consequences of requiring unquestioned submission with the use of guilt and shame that predisposes one to easy brainwashing and compliance with thought reform. Includes a section from Biderman’s Chart of Coercion addressing the powerful effects of devaluing individuals in religious settings.
Part III: Poor Development of Analytical Thought and Problem Solving Skills
- Discussion of the development of how perfectionism, works-based salvation and First Time Obedience squelch problem-solving skill and prevent the development of critical thinking under the guise of multigenerational faithfulness.
A specific review of the theological problems in Voddie Baucham’s defense of First Time Obedience as well as the refutation of the practice from Scripture. Echos concerns noted in this previous blog post concerning Baucham’s “Family Driven Faith” book.
Deb has posted the 3rd and final part of her review of Michael Pearl’s book, To Train Up A Child. In this post she looks at how Pearl prevented “sissies” and trained his children to always be happy. She also looks at what he teaches about the rod. She says that what Pearl teaches about persistence bothered her the most. I totally understand that. It is exactly this emphasis on persistence which I suspect killed Lydia Schatz.
Brenda King at Positively Feminine has posted a review of To Train Up A Child. This is an excellent review containing quotes from the book and Biblical arguments against the teachings.
On February 6, 2010, Lydia Schatz died from kidney failure allegedly brought on from corporal punishment. Her parents were arrested and her siblings were questioned. The other children co-operated fully with all adults. They answered questions calmly and completely, explaining how Lydia had been having switching sessions because she would not comply. They explained how they were all chastised with plumbing supply line when they did not obey and how their parents got their parenting advice from the No Greater Joy website. Sunday marks the first anniversary of this incident. As I do not post on Sundays, I am posting this today.
At the time of the tragedy, I was running a small site where I put all my links on the same page. I was soon overwhelmed by the quantity of links relating to the tragedy. On top of that, the server I was using had some problems and kept going down. A good friend helped me move here by the grace of God. I figured out how to organize better, but my early work was moved in large chunks. All that to say that in order to commemorate the first anniversary of the Schatz Tragedy, I am reposting my links regarding it. Please report any broken links by commenting or you may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
CBS did an investigative report about the Schatz and other child abuse stories.
Newer stories about the Schatz story can be found under my Schatz tag.
Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz were charged with murder and torture. The trial is scheduled to start on Feb 28, 2011 after a trial readiness hearing on Feb 17th.
As 2010 winds to a close, I am reflecting on the changes to this website. I moved to this blog in March during the thick of the Schatz story. Over the months I found more and more time passing between posts and started filling that time with posts about other controlling groups such as the Patriarchy Movement as well as helpful posts about Gentle Discipline. I am very thankful to God for how He has been using this blog. I wish my readers many blessings in 2011.
And now, The Paradise Post has released its Top 10 news stories of 2010 and the Schatz Abuse Story was number one. I post an excerpt from their story here for permanence:
Schatz, Smith lead top 10 newsPosted: 12/30/2010 01:00:00 AM PST
Once again the Post staff voted on the Top 10 stories of the Year. This year, the top story is the Schatz family abuse case.
1. Parents arrested in child abuse case
The ugliness of humanity reared its head in Paradise this year when two local parents allegedly beat their adopted daughter to death for mispronouncing a word.
Lydia Schatz, 7, died in February and her parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz, are accused of killing her by using controversial disciplinary methods outlined in a religious training book, “To Train Up A Child,” by Michael and Debi Pearl, founders of the No Greater Joy Ministry.
In the aforementioned book, the Pearls recommend using a rubber quarter-inch plumbing supply line for disciplining a child. Elizabeth called emergency crews on Feb. 6 to report that Lydia was not breathing.
A storm prevented the girl from being airlifted to the hospital by the LifeFlight helicopter. Lydia was being rushed by ambulance to Chico Municipal Airport, but died en route. The autopsy of Lydia shows that the girl died of Rhabdomyolysis, a rapid breakdown of skeletal muscle due to injury to muscle tissue.
Lydia’s 11-year-old sister was also discovered with injuries and sustained kidney failure. She was not originally expected to survive, but made a full recovery after treatment at Sutter Memorial Hospital.
The Schatzes have six biological children and adopted Lydia, the 11-year-old, and a 3 month-old from the Republic of Libera in Africa.
Police said all the children made statements affirming being disciplined by rubber tubing found in the Schatz home.
The parents were charged with murder and torture, each facing life in prison. Kevin and Elizabeth retained separate lawyers and pled not guilty to the crimes.
The case has not been resolved. The Schatzes are scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 28, 2011 for a jury trial.