Boston Herald, July 15, 1999

Strapping unruly son lands mom in court; her supporters say she is "sweet as pie"
By Michael Lasalandra

When Brenda Frazier's 10-year-old boy mouthed off at her once too often, she decided to discipline him.

The 46-year-old single mother of three from Roxbury says she simply took off her belt and strapped the boy across the legs.

She's now facing 2 years in jail.

Following the May incident, the boy called the police and Frazier was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. She is scheduled to be tried today in Roxbury District Court.

"I'm a good mother," Frazier said. "I was just disciplining the boy. I didn't cause him any harm. I spanked him because he was getting fresh. He was being very disrespectful, talking like I wasn't even his mother."

But the office of Suffolk County District Attorney Ralph C. Martin II doesn't see it that way. Spokesman David Falcone says the woman allegedly strapped the boy repeatedly as her boyfriend held him down.

"They noticed large welts on the boy's legs," Falcone said. "They talked to the boy, who told him that his mother had beaten him on several occasions in the same manner.

"It is not just a matter of disciplining her kid," he said. "This is a pretty serious case."

Frazier, however, denies anybody held the child down. And she said she hit him "only three or four times."

Her pastor and others in the Roxbury community say the district attorney's office is going way overboard.

"She's a wonderful woman," said the Rev. Ivan Cutts, pastor of the Greater Boston Church of God in Christ.

"This is crazy. She is very supportive of her children. She has helped them in every way."

Cutts said his entire congregation and many of the teachers and the principal at the boy's school are supporting Frazier, who suffered a stroke three years ago that left her partially paralyzed.

"She's as sweet as pie," Cutts said. "She doesn't abuse her kids. What was she supposed to do? Earlier, the boy had tried to hit her. You can't let your child beat on you."

Rudy Miller, Frazier's lawyer, said her 14-year-old boy has been in and out of trouble and did a stint in Department of Youth Services custody. He said Frazier is trying to keep her 10-year-old twin boys from going down the same path.

Frazier said the boy may have been put up to calling the police by his father, who is involved in a custody dispute over the twin boys.

The father could not be reached for comment. He has taken custody of the twins since the mother's arrest, sources said.

Frazier said the boy wasn't hurt. "I didn't hit him on the face or even on the back. It was just across his legs."

She said parents must have the right to discipline their children - for the kids' own good.

"I see kids out on the street and I don't want my child to be like that," she said. "I'm trying to nip it in the bud. I'm not going to tolerate it. I have to stand firm."

Miller said he will argue in court this morning that parents have the right to use "reasonable force" in disciplining their children.

"I can establish a basis for parents to physically discipline children," he said.

In 1998, a judge ruled that a Woburn minister does not have the right to spank his son, saying the punishment could constitute child abuse. The case involved charges filed by the Department of Social Services against Donald Cobble.

DSS is not involved in the Frazier case.

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