ANCHORAGE (Reuters) - An Alaska mom convicted of child abuse after she was seen on the “Dr. Phil” show pouring hot sauce into her adopted Russian-born son’s mouth was given a suspended sentence of 180 days on Monday.
Jessica Beagley, convicted last week of a single count of misdemeanor child abuse, was also placed on three years probation by an Anchorage District Court judge, who ordered her to continue counseling.
Beagley, a 36-year-old mother of six who is married to an Anchorage policeman, was fined $2,500, The fine was also suspended so long as she completes her probation to the satisfaction of the court.
She had faced a maximum sentence of a year in prison and $10,000 in fines.
“As a mother, I feel that it’s my most important job to love, care for, nurture and teach my children. I’ve tried to do that every single day that I’ve been a mom,” a tearful Beagley said before the sentence was imposed.
Municipal prosecutors filed the charge against Beagley after homemade video of her discipline methods aired last November on the “Dr. Phil” show, a pop psychology program, sparking a furor in both the United States and Russia.
Outraged viewers alerted authorities to the footage, which showed Beagley pouring hot sauce into the seven-year-old boy’s mouth and making him stand in a cold shower.
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.”
The case attracted attention in Russia, where there is growing concern about adopted children from that country facing abuse in the United States.
Russian reporters covered Beagley’s trial.
Russian officials had previously threatened to halt adoptions by U.S. parents unless Washington agreed to a treaty to better regulate them after a different American woman sent her 7-year-old adopted son back to Moscow on a plane with a note describing him as mentally unbalanced and violent.
Writing by Dan Whitcomb, Editing by Cynthia Johnston