NEW HAVEN, Connn. -- A minister who said he was upholding God's law when he spanked two children with a belt for disobeying their mother was cleared of assault charges Monday.
The jury took less that two hours to find Rev. Walter Oliver, 66, innocent of risk of injury to a minor and third-degree assault.
During a two-day trial, the boys, their mother and two police investigators testified Oliver hit the children on several occasions in 2000, leaving a mark on one boy's leg. The boys were 11 and 12 at the time.
The mother, Pamela Paige, said she herself had beaten the boys with a belt, and gave Oliver permission to do so. But she testified the beatings went too far.
Oliver acknowledged he administered what he calls "holy spankings," acting under biblical advice. Defense lawyer Norm Pattis told the jury: "There is no law against spanking."
Oliver ran his nondenominational Christian church, the Bible Speaks Ministries, from his New Haven home.
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