Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

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Canyonram
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Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Canyonram » Sep 01 2011 5:37 pm

A situation of an arrest of a grandfather for child abuse along the Bright Angel Trail / Grand Canyon was reported in the Arizona Daily Sun:
http://azdailysun.com/news/local/crime- ... b1c92.html

The arrest has drawn national attention with a Sept. 1 update at both the AZ Daily Sun and at MSN News:

http://azdailysun.com/news/state-and-re ... ee850.html

The original discussion on the issue was under 'How Not to HIke the Tanner' and as per Azbackpacker's suggesiton, I have opened a second dedicated posting.

The grandfather is a 44-year old man, not the image of a 'grandpa' that comes to mind for most. Note the slight differences in this version of the story compared to initial newspaper reports. Looks like a spin on the NPS response---check out the defense attorney response.

http://azdailysun.com/news/local/crime- ... b1c92.html

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Jeffshadows
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Jeffshadows » Sep 02 2011 9:17 am

:o I hope he had good intentions when he set out, at least. This seems like a case of "I'm going to teach them some solid life lessons" gone horibly awry!!
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Canyonram
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Canyonram » Sep 02 2011 10:01 am

Jeffmacewen---That looks to be the defense. I know that is how my football coach tried to 'toughen us up' if we wanted to make the team. I'm sure we'll hear more that he wanted the boys to lose weight, toughen up, and 'be responsible.'

I looked at a few other news reports on this event and every one has been re-written and give a slightly different perspective. Comments attributed to the guy's lawyer highlight the dilema created when the Park Rangers did not take immediate action and intervene to stop the hike up.

From the Sept. 2 2011 AZ Daily Sun follow-up article:

'Defense attorney Luke Mulligan questioned the children's statements, saying it seemed improbable that they could have completed the hike without food and water. He also said the rangers could have removed the children from the canyon had they believed the children were at risk of serious injury or death.
"If the rangers didn't perceive it, are we going to put an extra burden on my client to perceive it?" Mulligan said.'

Read more: http://azdailysun.com/news/local/crime- ... z1WoThICTj

The news articles are not clear if all the Rangers involved were law enforcement Rangers. At the Canyon (as PageRob pointed out on the 'How Not to Hike the Tanner' thread) the Rangers are no longer 'Generalists' with both law enforcement and Interpretive but one or the other. Also, during the summer there are plenty of PSAR staff---Preventative Search and Rescue---who get to wear the offical shirt but are really volunteers stationed on the trail to advise against extreme hikes, provide snacks, water, and radio for help. Any member of this forum would qualify to be this kind of PSAR Ranger after taking the course from the SAR Park staff. My guess is that PSAR staff were ordered to NOT intervene to avoid a physical confrontation.

I still believe the Park Rangers would have been better served to intervene as soon as they spotted the situation. Now, unfortunately, it looks as if the Park staff are going to be the ones on trial for the apparent inaction: If the situation warranted an arrest when the group got back to the Rim, why didn't it warrant intervention when the kids were still struggling on the trail? This is the challenge for regulatory/enforcement officals all the time---it is a current challenge to the Child Protective Services here in Arizona with some recent child abuse/death cases in the news.

Different degrees of the kind of abuse committed by the grandfather occur ALL THE TIME when children are taken out for their first hike, campout, etc. Males who were mistreated when they were children now have opportunity to dish out the same discipline. Of course, the sadistic behavior gets explained away as 'making them a man' and 'that's how I was taught,' etc. You'll also see this when people hike as a group with a superior hiker goading the less fit to 'keep hiking' or 'suck it up.' And the worse scenario is when that football coach or abusive grandpa has been internalized and we abuse ourselves unto death to keep hiking or refusing assistance. Instead of BEING in the Canyon, the whip gets cracked to DEFEAT the Canyon. The grandfather missed a golden opportunity with his young grandsons---their Canyon adventure could have been handled with joy and fun and become a special memory for all involved. The kids would have still made the hike, lost weight, got in shape---but they would have loved Grandpa for being the one who gave them the experience. Now, they are left with a lifetime legacy and nightmares and dread for not only Grandpa, but the Canyon.

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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Sredfield » Sep 02 2011 10:38 am

Canyonram wrote: Now, they are left with a lifetime legacy and nightmares and dread for not only Grandpa, but the Canyon.
Yup, he sure cured those kids of hiking.
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Canyonram
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Canyonram » Sep 02 2011 10:40 am

Official charges vs. the grandfather posted to the Web here:

http://media2.wishtv.com/_local/pdf/09- ... -ABUSE.pdf

More disturbing than the initial newspaper reports with the detailed abuse. Also, contains the 'actions' (or 'inactions') of the Park Rangers.
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09-01-11-PC-Carlson-Christopher-GRAND-CANYON-ABUSE.pdf
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Jeffshadows
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Jeffshadows » Sep 02 2011 10:50 am

Thanks for posting that. I have a small amount of practical experience in these kinds of situations but it's enough to convince me that ranger did everything the law allowed him to do down there.
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by fotogirl53 » Sep 03 2011 8:36 pm

This story made me sick to my stomach. Those poor boys--and their mother claims she didn't know anything. Just because she is only 28 years old is no excuse. I'm sure those kids complained to her about their treatment. On the other hand, she probably endured this monster's wrath and may be still under his control and abuse. Arizona needs to take permanent custody of the boys and find them homes here that will care for them. Let the mother fight to regain custody by proving that she is a fit parent.
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Jeffshadows » Sep 03 2011 11:18 pm

@fotogirl53: FWIW, I couldn't disagree more. I really think the state needs to get out of the business of taking minors away from their parents unless overt drug\sexual abuse is taking place. Current studies indicate that most of those minors fare far worse in the hands of foster or temporary families than they would in a mildly-abusive environment. Does that make abuse acceptable? Ideally...no. What's more, one man's abuse is another man's character-building exercise. Was this guy in the right? Heck no, but when it comes to *true* abuse it's sort of like Justice Stewart said: "I'll know it when I see it."

I actually suspect that this guy was suffering from the early stages of heat stoke himself. His combative and irrational behavior is almost a hallmark. I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt because the other option is that he is a real jack-pumpkin. ;)
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by fotogirl53 » Sep 04 2011 9:19 am

The tv news out of Phoenix reported that this guy made statements that he did it because the kids were fat. And he took them down at least twice. That seems to me to be premeditated abuse. I suspect the Grand Canyon isn't the only place they've been abused. Because they live out of state, it's hard to say if they will get the services they need at home. The whole system is pumpkin inadequate, from Child Protective Services to foster care to care after children turn 18. But, do you really believe that if the kids are returned to him, he won't just drive over to Death Valley and do it again?
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Canyonram
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Canyonram » Sep 04 2011 6:28 pm

A lot of disturbing information surrounding this 'Grandfather.' Long criminal record, previous charges of sexual abuse vs his daughter with the Mother found guilty of coaching the daughter with false charges, etc. The information provided by the boys to NPS is pretty consistent and was convincing enough for the lead investigator to file federal charges. May not be able to offer the grandfather a 'benefit of the doubt' based on his previous behavior/record, the visual observations by Park staff, the injuries to the boys consistent with their story, etc.

With side trips to South America, I wonder if drugs were involved---the grandfather's bizarre behavior match drug abuse symptoms as much as they match dehydration/heat-stress.

http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pd ... 717jsk.pdf

The biological father was not aware that his three childern were in Arizona, the biological Mother is a mess, etc.

http://www.fox59.com/news/wxin-indianap ... 675.column

The entire situation looks more severe than an overzealous grandfather trying to 'teach' the grandkids and get them in shape. The entire family dynamics are a disaster. Not sure if an adoptive family can be any worse since the kids do not appear to be receiving any protection from their biological parents. Since the parents are in Indiana, the kids will most likely be reprimanded to Child Protective Services in that state. Their future is very much in doubt. It will take some work to undo the psychological damage and scars since it appears that the grandfather was the only one who 'cared' about them.

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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Jeffshadows » Sep 07 2011 9:11 am

fotogirl53 wrote:The tv news out of Phoenix reported that this guy made statements that he did it because the kids were fat. And he took them down at least twice. That seems to me to be premeditated abuse. I suspect the Grand Canyon isn't the only place they've been abused. Because they live out of state, it's hard to say if they will get the services they need at home. The whole system is pumpkin inadequate, from Child Protective Services to foster care to care after children turn 18. But, do you really believe that if the kids are returned to him, he won't just drive over to Death Valley and do it again?
Playing devil's advocate, I would mount a very strong argument that letting your kids sit around playing video games getting fat and dooming them to a future of obesity-related illness is FAR more abusive than taking them out hiking. This guy was misguided. His intentions were probably genuine, but he failed to be patient and recognize that you have to start unfit people out slowly into activity. Of course, both of us are basing our judgements on the State's version of one event in this guy's life. His interactions with the rangers paint him in a bad light, either way...
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by azbackpackr » Sep 07 2011 12:44 pm

Not based on one event, though. The guy has a record.
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Jeffshadows » Sep 12 2011 1:31 pm

azbackpackr wrote:Not based on one event, though. The guy has a record.
According to whom? Was that released by the news?
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by azbackpackr » Sep 12 2011 4:24 pm

Canyonram posted some links.

Looks like the whole family is beyond dysfunctional.
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Jeffshadows » Sep 12 2011 6:00 pm

azbackpackr wrote:Canyonram posted some links.

Looks like the whole family is beyond dysfunctional.
I see them, now. What a mess...
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Canyonram » Sep 12 2011 8:37 pm

A Sept. 6 update on the abuse case reported two prior drug convictions:

http://www.myfoxphoenix.com/dpp/news/cr ... s-9-6-2011

Jeffmacewen is correct in being cautious regarding a rush to judgement. There have been plenty of cases of child abuse where the complaints from the children were taken as gospel and the adult involved was not given opportunity to present a defense before being assumed guilty. When I read the first news report on this case I didn't believe that the kids could do the Inner Canyon August hikes without water---especially when you are talking about an 8 year old. My first thought was that the kids were exaggerating their complaints to make their point against the grandfather. Not so---plenty of evidence that the grandfather was being abusive as reported by several Park staff. The NPS has put out a notice asking for 'Silent Witness' reports from the public as well. The lead investigator did a good job of speaking to the three childern separately and receiving the same 'story' from all three. NPS eye witnesses + consistent reports from the children + signs of current and past physical abuse evident on the children = a pretty strong case for child abuse. Once the guy's criminal record surfaced with drug convictions and a previous case with allegations of child sexual abuse, well, off to jail we go.

There are plenty of people that got the same type of 'training' from the adults in their lives---I think males suffer from this type of abuse more than females since the motive is to 'make us men' and to 'suck it up.' Popular TV programs still portray this 'get tough' training---from 'Beyond Scared Straight' to 'Tough Love' on Dr. Phil to some of the Survivor expert shows (except for Cody Lundin).

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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by azbackpackr » Sep 13 2011 3:15 am

My son worked in the Wilderness Therapy field and was often asked if it was like one of those kid "boot camp" programs, which it definitely was not. It was more of a spiritual quest. Those boot camp programs have attracted masochistic-type leaders.

If that is your personal experience, that a lot of dads or coaches afflict a "get tough" routine on hikes with their sons or team members, maybe that is because it happened to you. However, I don't think it is very common. It may have been more common years ago, but I wasn't aware of it then, either, and I've been out on the trails, and talking to other hikers, for over 40 years.

I do remember talking to an acquaintance (who wasn't very bright) in Tucson some years ago, who thought that backpacking was equal to some kind of forced march, you just had to keep going even if you are out of shape and exhausted. I asked him why didn't he stop to rest if he was tired? Oh, well, but he was with a couple of friends, and they didn't stop, so he thought you weren't allowed to stop! Dummy!
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by CannondaleKid » Sep 13 2011 8:53 am

azbackpackr wrote:If that is your personal experience, that a lot of dads or coaches afflict a "get tough" routine on hikes with their sons or team members, maybe that is because it happened to you. However, I don't think it is very common. It may have been more common years ago
While I admit I haven't seen much on hikes specifically, I would not share the opinion that a "get tough" routine isn't very common.

Thankfully I wasn't raised that way by my parents but for three years I was in a boarding school where that's exactly what it was like. (that was in South Africa in the late 50's)

However, even back in the U.S. I had numerous friends whose dads were the macho tough-guys and expected the same from their sons, and I don't doubt the cycle has repeated itself.

Also in the last few years I've worked with men who were extremely tough on their sons, and in each case I saw it was the father hadn't lived up to what was expected of him and was now trying to make sure their sons didn't "make the same mistake". The only problem with that is that you only raise sons who turn out either rebellious and/or sons with absolutely no self-esteem, going through life always falling short of what others expect of them, and in fact falling short of what few hopes and dreams they had. I know more than a few sons of tough fathers who have been in and out of counseling much of their adult life, a few who finally have come to terms with it and a few who I doubt ever will. At least they got enough help to prevent them from perpetuating the cycle in their own offspring.

But I also see too much on the other side of the coin, where fathers don't play a true father role and just abdicate their responsibility to the mother and/or just give them whatever they "want" (or possibly what the father thinks they may want), in effect trying to buy their son's love, which doesn't work either.
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by Jeffshadows » Sep 13 2011 9:10 am

I think a lot of this is perspective. What was normal in my family and for some of the other kids I grew up with might seem like brutality to an outsider and that outsider would be wrong (What this guy in the canyon was doing was closer to brutality than anything I ever experienced.) Using force for the sake of doing so is always going to be immoral regardless of the circumstances. However, there comes a time when it is warranted. To say that “No one should ever lay hands on a child” is to be naïve; what if I am throwing a kid back from the edge of a precipitous cliff?

I could tell a detailed story, but I won't. Suffice it to say, there was once a guy I was unfortunate enough to work with in some very stressful and dangerous situations who was certainly one of these kids growing up whose parents never laid a hand on him and had never been in a real fight in his life. He had a smart mouth and a tendency to be disrespectful. He nearly got me and the rest of our team killed after mouthing off to a senior member of another country's military. Instead, he got backhanded by that officer and began to cry. That might be one of the few times I could genuinely say I was embarrassed to be an American.

What a lot of people in our society seem to forget is that we need each other. Those parents who want to raise free-spirits need us parents who raise disciplined and determined children. The kids I grew up with and I went to awful places to protect the other kids I grew up with who just want to make it in to their laboratory every day without being hit by a jetliner. Diversity of approach in child-rearing makes America stronger.
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Re: Possible child abuse hiking Grand Canyon

Post by azbackpackr » Sep 13 2011 9:15 am

Cannondale, and Jeff, very insightful and well-said, both of your statements, I think.
There is a point of no return unremarked at the time in most lives. Graham Greene The Comedians
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