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In a very sad saga, a woman named Katie Marie Tagle dated a man named Stephen Garcia and had a baby with him. Katie Marie has said that he abused her throughout their entire relationship.

She broke up with him, became involved with another man, and had to go to family court over custody and visitation of their infant son, Wyatt.

Stephen, enraged over Katie leaving him, began making multiple threats to take Katie’s life and the baby’s life and continued to be violent toward Katie, at one point proposing to her and then physically knocking her down during a child exchange.

Upon receiving these threats, Katie went to court to seek restraining orders, each of which the judges denied indicating that they believed Katie was lying to gain advantage in the pending custody proceedings.

The day after the third courtroom denial, Stephen sent Katie an e-mail containing a story called “Necessary Evil.”

The story describes in detail Katie’s and Stephen’s relationship, and in the end, the story has two endings. In “Happy Ending,” the female character returns to the man. In “Tragic Ending,” the character takes his son to a lake, puts him to sleep with Benadryl and the baby dies. “He will have a better life with you then (sic) we can give him here,” the man tells God before taking his own life.

Katie called 9-1-1 after reading the story, and the responding deputy immediately went to the courthouse and obtained an emergency restraining order for her.

However, in Victorville court Jan. 14, Judge Robert Lemkau would not uphold the restraining order and ordered Katie to immediately give Wyatt to Stephen, as it was the day his scheduled visitation was to begin.

The judge made it clear that he believed Katie was lying to gain an unfair advantage in custody proceedings. Then, instead of ensuring the child’s safety in the event the mother might be right, the judge decided to err on the side of endangering the child by ordering that the baby immediately be handed over unsupervised to the man who repeatedly threatened to take the child’s and the mother’s lives in writing.

Here is the incredible transcript to that hearing.

http://photos.vvdailypress.com/files/multimedia/soundslides/Court.pdf

This is nothing unusual. This goes on in courts all the time. In the presence of a custody dispute, judges routinely believe that anyone claiming abuse is doing so to gain unfair advantage in cutody proceedings, and routinely order the child then placed with the abuser, regularly going so far as to completely deny custody or visitation to the reporting parent.

What is unusual in this case is that within 10 days of that hearing, Stephen took Wyatt up into the mountains and killed the baby and himself, just as he had repeatedly warned.

Here is a detailed version of this story:

http://www.mountain-news.com/articles/2010/02/04/news/news1.txt

Murder-Suicide Note by CA Man Was Posted on Net

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Senator Jake Knotts of South Carolina has recently proposed a bill giving teachers, principals, schools and school districts absolute civil and criminal protection from liability for any injury or harm resulting from their beating school children. No this did not happen in the Middle Ages. This is January 2010! Here is the language of this amazing bill:

  Proposed Bill – S. 1042 

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Article 1, Chapter 25, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 59-25-60. (A) A teacher who disciplines a student on school district property by means of corporal punishment while acting within the scope of his employment is immune from all civil and criminal liability that may arise from the incident. The same immunity is extended to the principal, school, school administrators, school district, and school district administrators for which the teacher is employed.

(B) For purposes of this section:

(1) ‘Corporal punishment’ means physical punishment inflicted by an adult in authority within the guidelines established by the school district on a student enrolled in a public school of a school district of this State.

(2) ‘Principal’ means the administrative head of a public school of this State.

(3) ‘Teacher’ includes both a teacher as defined in Section 59-1-130 and a teacher aide as defined in Section 59-1-140.

(4) ‘School district’ means a legal entity as defined in Section 59-1-160.”

SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.    

There must some sort of support for this in South Carolina, but how can anyone believe that children should be beaten and that neither they, their parents,  nor their guardians should have any recourse to protect them. It seems that many people do.

Here are some interesting facts on this issue:

http://www.nospank.net/tjohnson.htm

Take a look at this list of countries where all corporal punishment against children, including in the home, is now legally prohibited:

Sweden (1979)
Finland (1983)
Norway (1987)
Austria (1989)
Cyprus (1994)
Denmark (1997)
Latvia (1998)
Croatia (1999)
Germany (2000)
Israel (2000)
Bulgaria (2000)
Iceland (2003)
Romania (2004)
Ukraine (2004)
Hungary (2005)
Greece (2006)
Spain (2007)
Venezuela (2007)
Uruguay (2007)
Portugal (2007)
New Zealand (2007)
Netherlands (2007)
Republic of Moldova (2008)
Costa Rica (2008)

In addition, in Italy in 1996 the Supreme Court in Rome declared all corporal punishment to be unlawful; this is not yet confirmed in legislation.

In Nepal in 2005, the Supreme Court declared null and void the legal defense in the Child Act allowing parents, guardians and teachers to administer a “minor beating”; the Child Act is yet to be amended to confirm this.

Do you notice a country that is noticeably absent from the list?

A number of countries, some motivated in part by the UN’s convention and resolution protecting the rights of children, have taken the important step of legally standing behind child protection. This is clearly a step forward in the advancement of civilization.

In fact, the UN Study on Violence Against Children set a goal of universal abolition of corporal punishment against children as 2009. As of March 2009, the count of countries with full abolition was 24. The prohibition is being added by further states at a fast rate.

Here is a statement made at a discussion of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child:

“As for corporal punishment, few countries have clear laws on this question. Certain States have tried to distinguish between the correction of children and excessive violence. In reality the dividing line between the two is artificial. It is very easy to pass from one stage to the other. It is also a question of principle. If it is not permissible to beat an adult, why should it be permissible to do so to a child? One of the contributions of the Convention is to call attention to the contradictions in our attitudes and cultures.”
Concluding statement to Committee on the Rights of the Child General Discussion on Children’s Rights in the Family, October 1994

In America, suggestions to legally prohibit hitting children are rarely well-received. A recent attempt at a limited watered-down ban on corporal punishment (only on children under 4) in California was angrily received as well as ridiculed by many and shot down. (See Spanking Still Legal in California, Feb. 24, 2007, by Eric Fleming.) Why are Americans so hell bent on protecting the rights of parents to hit children?

How about this:

“Consider the injustice of hitting children. We hit in order to inflict pain. The law does not permit us to inflict pain on anyone other than our children. Floggings of prisoners and in the armed services, the beating of wives and servants are part of an unwanted brutal past. Our laws prohibit us from inflicting pain on animals. Why our children?”.
Ian Hassall, New Zealand Commissioner for Children, 1993.