The Plain Dealer, August 19, 1997
Dad could get jail for 'whupping'--Pleads guilty in bare-bottom spanking case
By Stephen Hudak, Plain Dealer Reporter
ELYRIA--Use the rod and you could go to jail.
Raymond Boyle could get two years in prison after pleading guilty yesterday to child endangering for spanking his teenage daughters with their pants down.
Gary A. Crow, executive director of Lorain County Children Services, said the case shows how blurry the line can be between discipline and abuse.
Ohio law permits use of reasonable corporal punishment, but prosecutors said Boyle's methods were a mental risk to his daughters, 15 and 13.
"It's not that he administered corporal punishment, but how," said Lorain County Prosecutor Gregory A. White. "He was way over the line."
Amherst police Detective Alex Molnar said Boyle, 39, required his daughters to strip naked from the waist down before spanking them last year.
Officials said one girl was spanked three times, with the first in January 1995 and the last in April 1996; and the other was spanked in April 1996.
Molnar said they confided the humiliation to a school counselor after the April incident.
Molnar said the girls were punished by their father repeatedly for minor things, including misbehaving on the school bus or disobeying his rules.
Boyle pleaded guilty yesterday rather than go to trial.
Prosecutors had planned to call a psychologist to testify that spanking the girls while they were nude posed a substantial risk to their mental health.
White said he doubted that Boyle would have been charged in Lorain County Common Pleas Court had he spanked the girls with their clothes on.
Although neither Boyle nor his lawyer, Michael Boylan, returned calls yesterday, court documents say Boyle did not touch either girl.
In an interview with Molnar, Boyle said he "whupped" his daughters with a belt, requiring that they strip because it added humiliation to the punishment.
He conceded this was wrong, the documents say.
Children Services said Boyle no longer has contact with the girls.Crow, the director of the agency, said parents often try to disguise child abuse as discipline.
"Ninety-five percent of the time we see child abuse, it's explained as an accident or [parents say,] 'The child was out of control. I was disciplining my child, and that's within my right,' Crow said.
While many parents and pediatricians consider corporal punishment an acceptable tool of discipline, new research calls it heavy-handed and ineffective.
The American Medical Association last week published research that suggests spanking has harmful long-term effects, including increasing aggression.
It concluded "spare the rod, spoil the child" was a myth.
Patti-Jo Burtnett, spokeswoman for Lorain County Children Services, said the agency suggests parents try nonphysical alternatives, like timeout.
"If you're unsure of where the line is, if what you do leaves a mark, hurts or humiliates, then you probably shouldn't do it," she said.
Boyle, who was free yesterday on a personal bond, will be sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Thomas Janas in about six weeks, after he is interviewed by the County Probation Department.