February 16, 2012

"I suppose to an 8, 9 or 10-year-old that might seem like child abuse if you like cheeseburgers, French [fries] and pizza."

"He wanted to get them from behind the TV, the games and fast food."

A 45-year-old Indianapolis man is on trial, facing life in prison, after taking his 3 grandsons on a hike in the Grand Canyon.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Williams portrayed [Christopher Alan] Carlson as an active health nut who had a firm hand and wanted to show the boys the world. Like anyone after a long hike, the boys were tired, hungry and thirsty, but Carlson only allowed the boys to eat healthy food like tofu, hummus and veggie burgers, Williams said in his opening...

The 9-year-old, the youngest of the three brothers, testified that he experienced cramping, nausea and hunger during the miles-long treks.

But he also told jurors that his grandfather took the boys on many “awesome” adventurous trips. In between the two hikes, Carlson took the boys on a tour of the Hoover Dam, to rides atop the Stratosphere hotel and a Criss Angel magic show in Las Vegas, and to Disneyland in California.

Jurors smiled as the boy also spoke of trips to Mexico, Belize, Honduras and across the western United States last summer with Carlson and his two older brothers. The trips often included long hikes, swimming and fishing in the ocean and thrill rides at amusement parks.

Although investigators have said Carlson withheld food and water, the boy testified that he and his brothers were allowed to drink water most of the time and snacked on celery, carrots, tofu and low-carb hummus during the hikes.
Key words: "jurors smiled." UPDATE: The man was found guilty on March 1st. Reading about the evidence produced at trial, it is easy to see why he was convicted.

62 comments:

Jay said...

A 45-year-old Indianopolis man is on trial, facing life in prison, after taking his 3 grandsons

That is pretty young to have 3 grandsons, isn't it?

Pogo said...

"Carlson only allowed the boys to eat healthy food like tofu, hummus and veggie burgers"

By pretending the abuse was a reference to the food or the long hikes, rather than the physical bullying and disregard for dangerous heat, I see him as one who knows he is abusing, rather than just being a tough love Dad.

Or maybe he's just preparing them for the Obama future.

SGT Ted said...

link is for 'blogspot.com'.

But being out in the heat if you have proper hydration is not abuse. Uncomfortable, yes. But it isn't abuse. Grampa probably should not have been monkeying with their diet, as the body will react messily with a severe diet change, but tofu isn't abuse either, nasty, but not abuse.

I remember going backpacking with the family when I was quite young. I had to pull my weight and it wasn't easy. I remember crying while being tired. It wasn't abuse, I was a child being tired during a hike to our camping spot, which we had to reach before dark. I had a blast the entire week and when we hiked out I was in shape.

Being firm with chidren isn't abuse. But, boys need meat protein if they are hiking like that. Tofu doesn't cut it.

DaveW said...

I'm not seeing abuse here, and I'm wondering why this is being prosecuted if the information quoted here is all of the story.

Pogo said...

@SGT Ted
Try this link.

SGT Ted said...

The whole thing is a mess." We were abused...we had a blast!" Possible overreaction by government officials. Possible prick for a grampa. I guess it'll get sorted out.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Key words: 45 year old man with 3 grandkids.

And life in prison? Linky no worky. There is nothing about this on IndyStar.


And now I have to do 2 word verifications?

EMD said...

" Christopher Alan Carlson's 9-year-old grandson says he and his two brothers were kicked during scorching hikes into the Grand Canyon last summer and that his grandfather also hit him in the face, causing a nose bleed."

Also

"Prosecutors have alleged that Carlson deprived his grandsons of food and water and pushed, choked and repeatedly kicked them during hikes on Aug. 15 and Aug. 28, when the temperature soared to 108 degrees"

Well, that sounds more abusive than tofu. I find the selective copy grab misleading.

Clare King said...

This is the kind of excursion my father would have taken us on. We called them "feats of endurance." When my siblings and I get together and reminisce, these are the most beloved of memories. My father took my son on many excursions too, at my request.

I can't tell you how grateful I am that he dragged us on these treks and badgered us to successful completion.

I remember wailing and blubbering because I was made to climb to the top of the Washington Monument when I was quite young. It was torturous.

What I learned was that I was stronger than I thought I was. And my father loved me greatly for helping me realize that.

SGT Ted said...

But Bibles said in her opening statement that Carlson used the Grand Canyon as a weapon in child abuse.

"These hikes became a life or death situation for these children at the hands of the person that was supposed to be protecting them," she said.


This sort of Drama Queenery from the prosecutor doesn't help get at the truth.

Matthew said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2101936/He-kicked-told-hurry-Nine-year-old-testifies-grandfather-led-boys-long-hikes-Grand-Canyon-eat-tofu-veggie-burgers.html

There's kicking, and whipping and nerve pinching in the Daily Mail's account. I don't know if Daily Mail is a legit source or not. It's from the U.K., so I guess that makes it respectable. Brits are by, definition, respectable, right?

That makes me think that it is probably more than just telling kids to cowboy up.

Calypso Facto said...

Obviously the state of Arizona is at fault for not providing a Dept of HHS backpack inspector and subsidized chicken nuggets...

SGT Ted said...

Yea good thing he didn't try to serve them a turkey sandwich instead of McNuggets.

SGT Ted said...

These folks would be shocked at how Iraqi boys are raised.

Pogo said...

"These folks would be shocked at how Iraqi boys are raised."

Urban Minneapolis is tougher than this grandpa.

It strikes me as stupid and at times abusive, but not a crime.

I am increasingly leery of the state pushing their nose here but not here:

"Madison, Wis. -- A man who found a severely malnourished 15-year-old girl walking barefoot outside in pajamas said she was bleeding from a gash on her nose and crying.

Mike Vega said Wednesday that the teen he found walking near her Madison home Feb. 6 also had scrapes and a big bruise on her forehead and was so scrawny he mistook her for an 8-year-old.

A probable cause affidavit said the girl weighs 70 pounds and experienced prolonged starvation.

Neighbors of the 15-year-old girl said they alerted social services authorities about potential abuse but don't know if anything was ever done."

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Interesting; haven't seen anything about this trial in the Phoenix media.

Any claims of abuse in this case relate to grandfather taking the kids on a long hike in Arizona in August. Fit, experienced adult hikers can easily get into trouble in the desert at that time of year; forcing a bunch of overweight kids out in it is criminal.

Patrick said...

Stories like that, Pogo, remind me that the depths of human cruelty know no bounds. 5 years like that. Unimaginable. Awful.

Fen said...

Where's Freder to tell us how this is torture?

SGT Ted said...

Actually, tough, Urban Minneapolis parents would turn Iraqi parents over to CPS.

Until you see it, you have no idea.

Stoutcat said...

Something about this story reminds me of "The Crucible". Young boys (and girs) who don't want to do something are liable to make things up in order to make the situation sound worse than it was.

The kids reportedly had access to water and healthy food during the hikes. And did a ranger see grampa "whipping" one of the boys with a tee shirt, or was grampa simply snapping the shirt as one would a towel in a locker room? They were aiming to get to a vantage point to see the sun set.

All I see is a bunch of whiny, entitled, lazy kids who would rather watch TV and eat chips try to make a federal case out of some healthy exercise and nutritious food.

The Nanny State is strong in these young ones.

edutcher said...

Life?

I'd say they've got to be kidding, but we've all learned by now they aren't.

And, as far as "healthy food like tofu, hummus and veggie burgers", why don't they call Moochelle as a character witness?

jeff said...

"Christopher Alan Carlson’s 9-year-old grandson says he and his two brothers were kicked during scorching hikes into the Grand Canyon last summer and that his grandfather also hit him in the face, causing a nose bleed."

Was the jury smiling at this part?

ricpic said...

He was being tough on his grandkids out of love -- something the state cannot understand, or even worse, something that enrages the state, which wants to own them.

Matthew said...

Stout Cat: From what the ranger saw, and the reports of the kid -- it sounds like the legal system is actually doing what it is supposed to do. When faced with what appears to be a crime, it is investigating it to try and determine if one occurred.

The evidence (one witness and testimony from the kids) is enough to warrant an investigation. Without more than that, I can't say if there should also be a conviction, but there's enough here that this isn't an over reaction by the state.

Joe said...

Tofu along is enough to convict.

Matthew said...

"Another brother said that when he fell, Carlson picked him up by the throat and threw him to the ground, and another said Carlson had slammed his face into a rock, the complaint said."

And:

"Rangers fed the boys and gave them water after one showed symptoms of heat stroke and the other two had signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration."

These are all legitimate reasons for the state to step in and make sure abuse is not happening. If Bibles would not say silly things like using the Grand Canyon as a weapon of abuse, I think we would not be so quick to rally to the grandfather and would be taking a more wait and see approach.

jeff said...

"He was being tough on his grandkids out of love"

Good point. Probably the same reasons some husbands are abusive. Out of love. Nothing to see here, move along.

bagoh20 said...

When they grow up, this guy will be who they miss and respect the most, as well as the one who did the most to enrich their lives.

My step father was a little like this, and at the time I hated him. Now, that he's gone, I consider him the most important person in the creation of the richness, and happiness of my life.

bagoh20 said...

key words: "Prosecutors have alleged..."

Thorley Winston said...

I actually hiked part of the Grand Canyon this summer as part of a family vacation. It took about three hours to go about a third of the way in and out of the Canyon (the altitude change coming out nearly kicked my arse). The temperature was in the 70s (it actually snowed the day after I hiked), brought edamame for protein and drank plenty of Gatorade and water to stay hydrated and replenish my electrolytes.

I can’t imagine any responsible adult taking a nine year old into the Canyon without proper preparation or adjusting the hike to match their capabilities. Much less this:

The criminal complaint said that one brother feared that another brother would fall to his death because Carlson forced him to walk on the edge of the trail even though he was cramping and falling down. Another brother said that when he fell, Carlson picked him up by the throat and threw him to the ground, and another said Carlson had slammed his face into a rock, the complaint said

I can’t imagine a custodial parent getting away with this, much less a relative. There are times when the state overreacts in order to protect children. I don’t think that this is one of those cases.

Matthew said...

key words: "Prosecutors have alleged..."

Which is what the trial is for. To see if they can prove it.

Ann Althouse said...

Okay, you've got 3 boys on a hike in the middle of some trail and it's 108°. They start complaining and balking, maybe refusing to walk at all, and there's a way to go. You're the only adult, and you're exhausted and hot too. They kids are being awful to you, and you know they feel bad, but it's getting dangerous. They need to walk!

What do you do?

Now, suppose you're not the smartest, best-informed person in the world. Would you "whip" the oldest one with a rolled-up T-shirt? Would you ever smack one in the face? If you did, would you feel bad? If you felt bad would it be because you realized that if the authorities found out they might prosecute you for crimes for which the sentence could be as much as life in prison?

Matthew said...

Life in prison does seem a bit overkill. Do child rapists even get that?

bagoh20 said...

That treatment is not unusual except in urban America in the most recent decades. It was common in many families even when I was kid, and the idea that a parent or grandparent would be prosecuted for it would have been considered crazy.

The granddad knew full well that the kids were not being harmed and would come out fine, in fact, improved. This sounds like a person who actually cares about these kids in a deep way, but I'm from a different time and place, thank God.

bagoh20 said...

After all is said and done, his kids will be able to defend themselves and others, to survive difficulties without breaking down, and even to protect the coddled ones raised by the enlightened who will drag down the rest. But, creating the far superior and necessary man is abuse.

Thorley Winston said...

Okay, you've got 3 boys on a hike in the middle of some trail and it's 108°. They start complaining and balking, maybe refusing to walk at all, and there's a way to go. You're the only adult, and you're exhausted and hot too. They kids are being awful to you, and you know they feel bad, but it's getting dangerous. They need to walk!

No the adult in this situation needs to better prepare before taking an overweight nine-year old onto a hike that’s killed adults who were in shape.

Thorley Winston said...

The granddad knew full well that the kids were not being harmed and would come out fine, in fact, improved.

I wonder how many of the people who have died hiking in the Grand Canyon “knew full well” that they “were not being harmed and would come out fine.”

Matthew said...

"But, creating the far superior and necessary man is abuse."

There's better ways to do that than slamming a kid's face into a rock.

Nathan Alexander said...

The world must be sanitized for our safety!

If anything bad happens to anyone, someone is at fault, somewhere; we must find someone to blame. Blame will attempted to be levied according to the following priority system:

1) George W. Bush
2) Sarah Palin
3) Corporations
4) The Tea Party (down from #2)
5) Christians (up from #7)
6) Rich non-Democrat Party Cronies, er Donors
7) The Koch Brothers (down from #3)
8) Guns
9) White Males
10) Outdated "worship" of the US Constitution
11) Males in general, or the Patriarchy (down from #5)

Skyler said...

I hiked the Grand Canyon with people who, I didn't realize until we got there, were complete idiots. It's a very dangerous place and should never be taken lightly.

I don't know if the treatment described really happened, but if it did, I would be inclined to say that perhaps the grandfather was doing what was necessary to get the children moving. You don't want to be stuck in the sun too long and speed has a virtue when getting out of the low elevation and extreme heat.

A better plan would have been to not take such young children down the canyon, but absent some severe injuries, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt.

Levi Starks said...

I would have died to go on a hike like that when I was 8,9, or 12 years old.
Those boys will not grow up to be left wingers, they will be survivors, who will always know how to take care of themselves. Their grandpa has done them an immeasurable service.
It brought back memories of my freshman year of CrossCountry practices when the coach would send us out on 6 mile runs on local farm roads, and follow along in the drivers ed car. And of course the first hour of "a band of brothers"

lgv said...

Just give the kids some nuggets, apple juice, etc. and charge grandpa $1.25 each instead of a crime punishable by life.

Let's say he goes to prison. Imagine how the boys will feel when they are in their 20's knowing the hike cost grandpa a life sentence. The state will have to provide them with mental health services to cope.

There's a whole bunch of kids who would be better off with a grandfather or father who took them on hikes and trips to places like Honduras, Mexico and Belize.

I was an abused child. This is nothing.

Matthew said...

The hike, alone, is bad judgment. Maybe neglect, but not abuse.

It's the kicks, strikes and face slamming that will be the real problem.

Thorley Winston said...

It sounds to me like the grandfather acted irresponsibly by putting his grandsons into a dangerous situation that has killed more physically fit adults and compounded his initial mistake by failing to properly plan or seek help. Whether he choked, kicked and smashed his grandchildren’s faces into rocks to “motivate” them rather than acting out of frustration for a situation that he created and as the adult is responsible for is not terribly interesting.


My own thinking is that the person responsible for putting someone into a dangerous situation in the first place generally should no longer receive the benefit of the doubt. Particularly when they’re an adult and the one that they endangered is a child but YMMV.

Skyler said...

That's a reasonable opinion, Thorley, but life in prison is more than a bit ridiculous.

Carnifex said...

Not having been there I do have some questions. Why would you take out of shape children into a dangerous enviroment? Was the "kicking" nudging with a foot to "get the hell up and walk"? Regardless, I wouldn't take any unprepared person to the Grand Canyon.

My dad once hit me on the side of the head (temple specifically) with a recurve bow for walking too loud. Once. After I picked my self up, I told him if he ever tried that again I would kill him. I guess I was believable because that was the last time my dad ever hit me.

"Captcha" chaps my ass.

Thorley Winston said...

That's a reasonable opinion, Thorley, but life in prison is more than a bit ridiculous.

That’s a tougher call for me. I tend to agree with Matthew that the hike alone wouldn’t warrant a charge of felony child abuse, however that’s largely because none of the children were seriously injured or killed. If that had been the case, I wouldn’t lose much sleep over locking him up and throwing away the key. The added details about the kicking, choking and slamming a child’s face into a rock pretty clearly bring it back into the realm of child abuse. I’d be interested to see how accurate the reporting is on the sentence being sought and whether there are additional aggravating factors that lead to seeking a life sentence.

Michael said...

I think the professor has it right. At some point whining and resting isn't getting to the top, to the car. Frustration abounds.

Nice to know, however, that we are such a nation of pussies that hiking in 108 degree heat is considered by many here to be suicidal or close to manslaughter. Better to take the kids to Mickey Ds and then on to a hip hop concert or better still back to the couch and the tv and the whirring ac. Is it even legal to take kids out of the country? Lots of danger there too, eh? And germs. Not to mention foreigners.

Matthew said...

There are plenty of other healthy, active options.

Jose_K said...

Daily Mail is a little over National Enquire

Methadras said...

Prosecutors have alleged that 45-year-old Christopher Alan Carlson of Indianapolis deprived his three grandsons of food and water and pushed, choked and repeatedly kicked them during hikes on Aug. 15 and Aug. 28.

There is a disconnect from what is presented vs. the childs testimony. Besides, if this guy is 45, I want what he is having. He looks like he is 18. Damn good genes in my opinion.

Also, who brought the complaint before the court? The kids, the parents? and why? So much detail left out.

Thorley Winston said...

I think the professor has it right. At some point whining and resting isn't getting to the top, to the car. Frustration abounds.

When I hiked in the Canyon, I remember seeing signs warning about the difficulty of adjusting to the altitude and encouraging hikers to make frequent rest stops and take in plenty of fluids. If you’re hiking with someone less physically capable like a nine year old child, you ought to be taking more frequent rest stops (especially coming out of the canyon) and the adult ought to making damn sure that the children in his care are getting enough water and not getting nearly dehydrated.
Nice to know, however, that we are such a nation of pussies that hiking in 108 degree heat is considered by many here to be suicidal or close to manslaughter.

Because nothing says “I’m not a pussy” like a 45-year old man kicking, choking and smashing a little boy’s face into a rock.

Carnifex said...

I just realized some might mistake my earlier post as a typo. My dad didn't hit me for TALKING too loud, he hit me for WALKING too loud.(great guy, my dad)

Michael said...

Thorley Winston: I didn't say anything about the kicking and choking of a child, asshole. I was talking about pussies like you who think taking a hike in the heat is a big fucking deal.

ed said...

*shrug*

1. It's a question of survival. If you're on a trail and the only reasonable expectation of survival is to get to the top then that is what you do. You get to the top. You don't beg, you don't plead. You push, prod, force and if necessary you drive them. Because if you don't then they might die.

2. Life in prison? Is this a joke? It wasn't that long ago a wife got less than 4 years of jail time for murdering her husband with a shotgun while he was lying in bed. And yet this guy is facing life in prison?

3. Frankly I wouldn't have anything to do with the whiny little bastards after this. I'd write them out of my life and my will.

Tari said...

"This sort of Drama Queenery from the prosecutor doesn't help get at the truth."

SGT Ted, what do you think DAs hire women for, anyway - good lawyering? Here in Houston we had one who infamously tied her co-counsel to the bed where the murder allegedly occurred, hiked up her skirt, climbed on top of him, and "stabbed" him repeatedly. This did not lead to a charge of prosecutorial misconduct, but to a conviction and a movie deal. Makes me want to vomit.

Kirk Parker said...

Tari,

Well, was she hot??? :-)

Clare King said...

"Because nothing says “I’m not a pussy” like a 45-year old man kicking, choking and smashing a little boy’s face into a rock."

Has he been found guilty of this?

My grandfather called welfare on my mom and dad once because we were forced to do our own laundry and drink skim milk from a mix.

My husband's girls tried to get visitations denied because he didn't wash their bath towel after each use.

Both cases the kids were encouraged to exaggerate the circumstances. Thrashing with a tshirt hardly seems traumatic. Now if it were a wet towel... then my brothers were abusive too.

shirley elizabeth said...

The temperature may have been 108, but it was not down in the Grand Canyon. And probably not even at the top. Very likely, that was the temperature in the (Phoenix) Valley that day. 5 - 6 hours away. Not that the heat couldn't still kill them. It's just probably another exaggeration to the story.

Mary said...

" Would you ever smack one in the face? If you did, would you feel bad? "


What kind of fuckup ends up a granddaddy at ... 35???

Dud is on a power trip.

Smash his face into a rock before these boys breed.

Skookum John said...

I have hiked down all the major trails in the Grand Canyon. I do not doubt that the temperature at the bottom was 108 degrees in August. Moreover, you're surrounded by the hot black rock of the Vishnu Schist down there, so it's even worse than the thermometer indicates. It requires good conditioning and careful preparation, with a gallon or more of water per person per day. Spring and fall would be better times, although then you run the risk of snow at the higher elevations. I don't think people from the flat parts of the country have a real grasp of the extremes of weather in a place like the Canyon. He'd have done better at that time of year to take them on a long flat hike along the rim, not far from civilization.

bagoh20 said...

I'm assuming the violence is overstated, because that's what prosecutors and charging parties always do. Are accusations ever less or even accurate at the beginning.

Assuming that, I know I'm not the only one who thinks this guy would be great to have as a grandfather. Hell, I want him to adopt me now.

Now many think him a monster, and feel exactly the opposite of me. I find that attitude sad and unfortunate for you. We sure are very different people.