Russia not satisfied by U.S. “angry mom” sentence

Tue, Aug 30 09:50 AM EDT
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) – Moscow is not fully satisfied with the suspended sentence given to a U.S. woman who poured spicy sauce into the mouth of her adopted Russian-born son, a Kremlin official said Tuesday.

Alaska mother Jessica Beagley was sentenced Monday after she was seen on a television program punishing her seven-year-old son by making him swallow hot sauce and stand in a cold shower.

The case sparked anger in Russia, where there is growing concern about reports of abuse of children adopted from that country.

U.S. municipal prosecutors filed the charge against Beagley after homemade video of her discipline methods aired on the “Dr. Phil” show, a pop psychology program last year.

Beagley was given a suspended 180-day sentence Monday after being convicted of misdemeanor child abuse.

An Alaska judge also placed her on three years’ probation and ordered her to continue counseling.

“I cannot say that this ruling completely satisfies us, but we must accept the verdict” the Kremlin children’s rights ombudsman, Pavel Astahkov, said in a statement released by his spokeswoman.

Astahkov added: “The conviction of Beagley and the sentence applied, while conditional, shows that the American justice system is prepared to punish parents who have humiliated their children, and that American society will not close its eyes to such cases.”

The adoption of tens of thousands of Russian children by foreigners — particularly from Moscow’s Cold War foe, the United States — has been a sensitive issue since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union opened up Russia to the West.

Russian officials and media have cast a spotlight on cases of alleged abuse of Russia-born children at the hands of their American parents, some of them fatal.

The acrimony peaked last year when an American woman rejected her adopted son and put him on a plane back to Russia alone.

Russia halted most U.S. adoptions and demanded a treaty meant to tighten regulation of the process and protect children from potential abuse. An agreement was concluded in July, and Astakhov Tuesday urged Russian lawmakers to ratify it soon.

Prosecutors say Beagley staged exaggerated and compounded punishments specifically to win a spot on the Dr. Phil program, which has occasionally featured so-called “Angry Moms” in segments called “Mommy Confessions.”

(Reporting by Denis Dyomkin; Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Andrew Heavens)