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Child Abuse, Fundamentalism, Lori Wick, News

Trial Underway for Phil Caminiti

I have been searching for months for information on when the trial for Phil Caminiti would be held.

And now, here it is! Finally!!

G.R.A.C.E. posted on their Facebook page the link to the following article. (By the way, if you’re not familiar with G.R.A.C.E. also known as Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, you really need to check out their website here and “like” them on Facebook to get their updates.)

Here’s the article:

Trial set to begin for pastor who allegedly instructed followers to beat their children with dowels

Depending upon who is believed, Philip Caminiti was a feared religious leader who persuaded his flock to beat their infants and toddlers with wooden dowels as the Bible instructs — or simply a leader whose views on discipline matched those already being followed by the congregation.

Caminiti, 54, of Black Earth, leader of the Aleitheia Bible Church, faces a weeklong trial on eight counts of conspiracy to commit child abuse for allegedly teaching church members how to discipline their young children by striking them with wood spoons or dowels on their bare bottoms.

“Phil told them the point was inflicting pain,” Dane County Assistant District Attorney Greg Venker told a jury during his opening statement Monday.

Venker described how other members of the church, which has no physical building but meets in its members’ homes in Black Earth and Mazomanie, told police that Caminiti persuaded them to hit their children, some as young as 2 months, on their bare bottoms to discipline them.

“He made the parents believe that their eternal souls were dependent on it,” Venker said.

But Caminiti’s lawyer, Yolanda Lehner, said there was no abuse, and there was no conspiracy by Caminiti or anyone else to commit abuse.

And any discipline that happened among the congregation’s families, she said, happened because they are in many cases literally an extended family who are together because their religious views agree with one another.

“It’s not surprising they have similar views on child rearing and corporal punishment,” Lehner said. “Phil Caminiti didn’t tell them what to believe.”

But parents of the children said they saw their children’s skin become red and bruised as a result of the punishment they inflicted. Many of those parents are also charged with child abuse and one of them, John Caminiti, who is Phil Caminiti’s brother, was sentenced to a year in prison last year after pleading guilty to two counts of child abuse and one count of causing mental harm to a child.

But Lehner said the evidence will fall short.

“What you’re going to hear is that there wasn’t any child abuse. Period,” she said.

There are no pictures of alleged injuries suffered by the children, she said, and the marks that their parents will describe are small in size, not large, deep purple bruises.

The trial, before Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi, is scheduled to last until March 20.



If you’ve read the reports on Maria and Timothy Stephenson, Matthew and Alina Caminiti, and Timothy and Andrea Wick, you know some of what these kids have been through.

I’ll be interested to see how this trial goes in light of other recent cases concerning children who’ve been abused to death with similar methods. I’m sure most of us remember Lydia Schatz, the 7 year old girl adopted from Liberia who was beaten and died for mispronouncing a word, and Hana Williams, the 13 year-old girl adopted from Ethiopia who was horribly abused and starved for being “rebellious.”

Since his brother John Caminiti got a year in prison, I would hope Phil Caminiti would get at least that amount of time. Furthermore, will it be taken into account that he’s a pastor and has influence over people?

But what can we learn from this article? A lot.

If you are a caretaker of a child and notice unusual marks or bruises, consider taking a picture of what you see if you can and document what you see and when. Then, notify the parents of what you have seen. If you suspect the parents are inflicting the marks, then you will have to involve other people, potentially the authorities if it is truly an abuse situation.

If you are being abused, document what is being done to you. Tell a trusted adult and let them know what is going on. Go see a doctor and let them examine you. Many cases can be dismissed for lack of evidence or witnesses. Be able to produce both.

As a disclaimer, I am not a licensed professional, only a mom with an opinion.These are only suggestions, but good ones in my humble opinion. 🙂

I will let you know more about the trial as soon as I know.

Related posts:

Is Lori Wick aiding child abusers?

Is Lori Wick aiding child abusers? Part 2

A Fair Sentence for John Caminiti?

Related links:

Report on Maria J. Stephenson

Report on Timothy D. Stephenson

Report on Matthew B. Caminiti

Report on Alina N. Caminiti

Report on Timothy J. Wick

Report on Andrea L. Wick



One thought on “Trial Underway for Phil Caminiti

  1. I agree that some people abuse their children and call it discipline, but in my opinion, spanking is not a crime and should not be treated as such. Many of societies ills todays go back to the lack of proper training and discipline in the home. Too many parents today abdicate their responsibility to provide boundaries for their children, and enforce consequences when those boundaries are crossed. Spanking is by no means the only method to do this, but can be appropriate at times. The practice of spanking can be taken to the extreme and be abuse, but not all spanking is abuse. Other methods of discipline can be taken to extremes also and be abusive, maybe not physically, but perhaps psychologically. Failure on the part of parents to provide discipline is also abusive, but in a different way. It is detrimental to the child’s development to not be given boundaries and to never encounter consequences for unacceptable behavior. Catering to every whim of a child is abusive. These things teach a child to be selfish and to expect everything to be given to them. It teaches children an entitlement mentality.

    Why not focus on real abuse rather than vilifying an age-old practice of discipline that does more good than harm 99% of the time? There is evidence all around us that the lack of corporal punishment at home and in the schools has NOT improved us as people or as a society. Hands-off parenting that indulges the child causes more harm than good.

    Posted by David | May 30, 2012, 6:22 pm

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