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Child Abuse, Fundamentalism, Lori Wick, News

The Trial for Phil Caminiti is over


** If you are not familiar with Phil Caminiti, Aleitheia Bible Church, or any of the other members associated with this particular church, please read Trial Underway for Phil Caminiti.

On Wednesday, March 21, 2012, Phil Caminiti, pastor of Aleitheia Bible Church, “was found guilty of eight counts of conspiracy to commit child abuse for advocating the use of wooden rods to spank children as young as two months,” according to Madison.com. Because he did not actually commit any of the abuse himself, he was was not charged with committing any abuse. However, he had “instructed members of his flock to punish children as young as infants and toddlers by striking them on the bare buttocks with wood dowels in order to teach them to behave correctly.”

Here is the complete article from Madison.com:

Black Earth pastor found guilty in child abuse case

A Black Earth pastor was found guilty Wednesday of eight counts of conspiracy to commit child abuse for advocating the use of wooden rods to spank children as young as two months.

A Dane County jury took only about two hours to find Philip Caminiti, 54, pastor of the Aleitheia Bible Church, guilty of having instructed members of his flock to punish children as young as infants and toddlers by striking them on the bare buttocks with wood dowels in order to teach them to behave correctly, fitting the church’s literal interpretation of the Bible.

Caminiti looked ahead at Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi as she read the guilty verdicts, then smiled and hugged his lawyer, Yolanda Lehner, at the end of the brief hearing that closed a trial that started on March 12. He declined to comment on the verdicts afterward, as did Lehner. Several members of Caminiti’s family wept in court as the verdicts were read.

Caminiti faces up to six years of combined prison and extended supervision on each count when he is sentenced in about two months by Sumi. In the meantime, he remains free on a signature bond but was ordered not to leave Dane County.

Assistant District Attorney Shelly Rusch, who prosecuted the case with Assistant District Attorney Greg Venker, said she was surprised that the jury deliberated for such a short time. She said she did not know what resonated most with the jury, though she speculated that the ages of the children involved in the case might have weighed on them.

The charges alleged that two of the children involved were just 2 months old when discipline was advocated by Caminiti. The oldest child was 5 when the practice was stopped after police intervened in November 2010.

Caminiti was not charged with having committed any abuse himself.

Instead, as leader of the church he told other parents, including his own adult children and his brother, how to discipline their children by striking them with wooden spoons and dowels. Using the rod, Caminiti told police, is mandated by the Bible and is intended to correct a child’s behavior if they are exhibiting “selfish” crying.

But prosecutors said that the practice went beyond reasonable discipline.

“What we have here are babies and children trying to develop into individuals,” Rusch told the jury in her closing argument, “and it’s being beaten out of them.”

She said Caminiti knew it was illegal, because he had advised his flock not to punish their children this way in public places because it might be seen as abuse.

“It is abuse,” Rusch added.

But Lehner argued to jurors that there was no evidence of abuse, only “reasonable discipline” at the hands of parents who were doing as the Bible instructed.

“These children were loved,” she said. “The whole idea of spanking was that they wanted them to grow up and be the kind of people to honor their God.”

Caminiti, she said, did not instruct the parents to do what the Bible had already taught them, but “gave his opinion.” It was not a conspiracy to talk about their religious beliefs.

“Phil never gave anyone orders,” Lehner said. “He just talked to people and said what he thought.”

Caminiti’s brother, John Caminiti, pleaded guilty last year to causing mental harm to a child and two counts of child abuse and was sentenced to a year in prison and eight years of probation.

Also facing child abuse charges are Caminiti’s son and daughter-in-law, Matt and Alina; his daughter and son-in-law Maria and Timothy Stephenson; and Timothy and Andrea Wick. Some of them testified under immunity agreements during Philip Caminiti’s trial.

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “The Trial for Phil Caminiti is over

  1. Babies have only one real way to communicate and that is through tears. I’m hungry, have a full diaper, tummy ache, have gas, am uncomfortable with the way I am being held, want my mommy. Each need has a different cry and they should not be hit with a stick for expressing their human needs. One pauses to wonder if you should have children at all if you can’t handle communication. One also ponders the ego one has if he should have complete silence to be heard and obeyed. Jesus said let the children come to me, when the disciples tried to hush them up so that Jesus could be heard. Luke 18:16

    Posted by Deborah | July 31, 2012, 12:48 pm
  2. Spanking a “2 months old baby” is not it at all. I feel pains in my heart while reading this. That is outrightyly inhumane. What does that child knows. For a child of that age crying is for uneasiness and wanting of attention, lets not be cruel in the name of disciple.

    I quite agree with Pastor Phil on spanking a child but definately NOT abusing the child. Spank please where needful but with caution (love).

    We should learn to balance Bible Principles on the scale of “scripture to scripture”. The same Bible which say we should spare the rod and spoil the child also said we should not provoke the children to anger (abuse them).

    I beg of spiritual leaders to differentiate their personal opinions from what the Bible say. I also enjoin my fellow christians to study the Bible personally, instead of just working with what their pastors say.

    Posted by Edna Gabriel | April 22, 2013, 2:44 am

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