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Mom Charged with Child Abuse for Punishing Son with Hot Sauce

11:45 AM, Feb 3, 2011   |    comments
An image from the video of Beagley and her son (YouTube)
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(CBS) -- A mother in Alaska has sparked outrage for allegedly punishing her son with hot sauce and cold showers. Now, she's the one facing punishment: charges of child abuse.

CBS News Correspondent Betty Nguyen reported on "The Early Show" Thursday a disturbing home video started it all.

Jessica Beagley, a 36-year-old mother of six, is seen disciplining her adopted son by making him hold hot sauce in his mouth. The reason for the severe punishment? He'd lied.

In the video, Beagley can be heard saying, "What happens when you lie to me?" The boy answers, "I get hot sauce. You get hot sauce."

The mom asks, "What else happens when you lie to me?"

The boy answers, "I get a cold shower."

The 7-year-old, adopted from Russia, is then put into a cold shower and can be heard screaming.

The video created an emotional uproar and resulted in criminal charges.

Beagley sent the video, shot by her 10-year-old daughter, to the "Dr. Phil" show, seeking help in disciplining her child.

Beagley said on the show, "I feel out of control."

But after the show aired, the video went viral, sparking a flood of Internet outrage.

One viewer said, "She doesn't treat him like a son. More like a warden to an inmate."

Another wrote, "They do that stuff to interrogate prisoners."

Viewers then complained to the Anchorage Police Department, which prompted prosecutors to charge Beagley with child abuse.

Court documents allege Beagley intentionally caused her son to be "tortured...cruelly punished or physically injured."

She has pleaded not guilty. But experts say Beagley's methods are dangerous to the child.

Dr. David Swanson, a psychologist, said, "Throwing a child in a cold shower is cruel, it's unusual and it's abusive. Giving hot sauce is to inflict pain. You're only reacting to your own anger and anxiety."

Swanson continued, "This is all about the mother's anger! This has nothing to do with teaching this child a lesson. This has everything to do with using this child as a target."

The boy remains in the Beagley's custody. She is due in court March 21.

On "The Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge remarked, "I talked to (Beagley's) attorney and he's saying, 'You know what, this doesn't constitute child abuse.' But I just, watching the video, I have a hard time agreeing with that. I think anybody who's watching this is just -- "

Hill added, "When you hear those screams in the shower, it's just tough to listen to."

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