Christian Parents Receive Massive Sentence for the Starving and Freezing Death of Their Adopted Daughter

“I have known Larry and Carri to be loving parents with the ability to raise children appropriately,” Richard Long stated for the record.

Long is the family pastor of Carri and Larry Williams. The Washington state couple had nine children — seven biological ones, plus two adopted from Ethiopia. Now there are eight; in 2011, adopted Hana Grace-Rose Williams, 13, died of starvation and hypothermia — the result of the parents’ sustained reign of terror that was inspired by a devoutly Christian book on disciplining kids.

This summer a jury convicted the Williamses of denying their children Hana and Immanuel food, beating them and making them sleep in closets or washrooms. They were fed a diet of sandwiches that had been soaked in water and vegetables that were still frozen. Some of the couple’s seven biological children sometimes took part in the abuse.

According to the New York Times,

Late one night in May [2011] … Hana was found face down, naked and emaciated in the backyard; her death was caused by hypothermia and malnutrition, officials determined. According to the sheriff’s report, the parents had deprived her of food for days at a time and had made her sleep in a cold barn or a closet and shower outside with a hose. And they often whipped her, leaving marks on her legs.

One of the beating implements favored by the Williamses was a quarter-inch flexible plumbing line of the kind advocated by evangelist Michael Pearl and his wife Debi, who run No Greater Joy Ministry in Tennessee. The Pearls, in their best-selling self-published book “To Train Up a Child,” recommend that Christian parents physically discipline children as young as six months with “the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules.”

The tome has been implicated in the violent deaths of two other children – Lydia Schatz and Sean Paddock. The parents of Hana, Lydia, and Sean had several things in common, writes the Seattle Times:

They adopted children, home-schooled them, and lashed them with quarter-inch-diameter plastic tubes. They also used the child-rearing teachings of a Tennessee evangelist, Michael Pearl, and his wife, Debi.

To Richard Long, the Williamses’ pastor, their behavior might have been “loving” and “appropriate.” But Hana’s frozen corpse didn’t lie, and Judge Susan Cook wasn’t buying the good reverend’s apologia. Last week, she sentenced Larry Williams to almost 28 years in prison. His wife and co-defendant, who had arguably been the more enthusiastic abuser, received a 37-year term.

“I feel the punishment should match the outrage felt by this community,” said Skagit County Superior Court Judge Susan Cook. “I am at a complete loss. I think at some point in this trial each and every one of us sat stunned and speechless without the slightest hope of making any sense of this whatsoever. … What I see is one child dead, one child with PTSD, and seven biological children who apparently believe that degrading and dehumanizing another person is completely acceptable.”

The sentences are the highest allowable under law.

With any luck, this case will be the beginning of the end for the courts’ velvet-glove treatment of defendants who abuse and murder their children with an appeal to Christian privilege. I certainly hope that news of the whopping Williams prison terms has made it to Catherine and Herbert Schaible, the prayer-healing Christian couple awaiting trial in the homicide of the second child to die under their care.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • wtbusdriver

    Hopefully the harsh sentence will serve notice to other parents and guardians that treat their children that way.

    • Stev84

      Don’t count on it. They will just see this as religious persecution.

  • Mick

    My prediction:
    An appeal against the harshness of the sentences.
    Sentences reduced.
    No parole period set.
    Both of them back on the street within five years.

    [I could be wrong]

    • Mario Strada

      Let’s hope you are.

  • Lauryn

    These stories make me feel such a burning anger. I want to… just scream at them, “How could you do that to a child?! A small human who trusted you and who you were supposed to protect and care for!” That woman (she can’t be called a mother) should have gotten life. Even if that was impossible because that was the highest punishment.

    • atheismFTW

      I don’t just want to scream at these so-called parents, I want to shake the religious bullshit out of them.

      • Glasofruix

        With a hammer, in their face.

  • wright1

    Like the judge I’m at a loss to comprehend how something like this can happen; I guess I’ve led a sheltered life.

    I’ve read reports of the studies and experiments done showing how dehumanizing the “other” leads inevitably to abuse and often death, how it changes those who have power over others. What I don’t understand is how a parent or guardian of a child can so fail in their compassion and responsibility.

    In this particular case, the couple’s religious belief seems to have been an enabler. Pastors all over the country should be taking this to heart if they’ve encouraged the members of their churches to indulge in this kind of “sanctioned discipline”. Sadly, I suspect most will put up the “not True Christians (TM)” mental defense and almost immediately forget about it.

  • Houndentenor

    There’s a difference between discipline and abuse. Starving your children and leaving them to freeze to death is not discipline. Good on the prosecutors and the court for bringing these monsters to justice. It’s too bad we can’t order that these “parents” live in the same conditions to which they subjected the children in their care. That of course would be a violation of the constitution. The fact that these people treated their adopted children worse than we are allowed to treat convicted mass murderers is a good indication of how unacceptable this brand of abuse is.

    • Diana Newton

      The only good thing is that people who abuse children are usually heavily abused by other inmates. Child molesters, child abusers and child killers never have an easy time of it in prison. I think these monsters posing as “parents” will get a good dose of what those children went through, and it serves them right. What happened to that beautiful little girl and her adopted brother is just heart-breaking. I’d like to beat the holy hell out of those parents myself.

  • onamission5

    I have a daughter almost the same age as Hana. I am sitting here trying to picture a behavior she could do which would cause me to feel justified in beating her, depriving her of food and water, then locking her outside overnight, naked, dehydrated, and starving, to die. I got nothing. She could commit the most awful crime imaginable and I still would not be able to bring myself to inflict even a fraction of such suffering upon her. To think that Hana’s parents believed their outrageous abuse was justified toward a helpless child for merely acting like she was a human being with needs and feelings, it’s unfathomable.

    I hope the parents rot in jail, lonely and filled with despair for the remainder of their lives, as the full weight of what they have done to this child sinks in. I hope their surviving children get every bit of the therapy and loving guidance they need to grow up safe, secure, and healed from their childhood traumas. I hope the children are saved from the life their parents inflicted upon them and they grow up to be wonderful people who would never think to abuse another human being. I wish Hana could have been saved, too. Every photo of her, every description of her abuse, my heart breaks all over again. What a senseless, confusing horror her last days must have been.

    • CassandraJK

      I did the same thing. I have three grown kids, and I barely raised my voice to them, let alone physically harm them. And do you know what sparing the rod got me? Three atheist/agnostic college graduates who are smart, kind, generous and making me proud every day.

    • Mario Strada

      I am actually feeling guilty that very rarely I looked at my daughter with what she calls “the look”. That was the extent of my abuse.

      • CassandraJK

        Oh, I had “the look” too. The one my children called the “I’m ashamed to have given birth to you” look.

    • Red_Ruffensor

      They’ll spend all their time in the big house thinking it was Satan who tricked the judge into sending them there. Old Nick obviously wants them out of the way so as to more easily conquer the gullible world.

  • Tak

    Cue the no true scottsman fallacy in 5…4…3…

    These sentences will be no deterrent to other abusers. Capital punishment doesn’t seem to deter murders so why would a long prison sentence deter abuse? There’s also the terrifying fact that abusers very often do not believe that what they are doing is abuse. People have a need to believe they are good and we are great at lying to ourselves in order to believe we are good people.

    For what these ‘people’ did those are light sentences. They should be shot like the animals they are. I do not even care that the sentence wouldn’t deter others. They’re dangerous sociopaths; if they had the insight and empathy to grasp what a monstrous thing they have done they’d kill themselves.

    • Dats3

      I certainly feel your sentiment but i think spending the next 27 and 38 years of their lives in prison is more suitable because they will be thinking about it. If they believe they did nothing wrong is fine too because that makes the sentence all the more painful. I don’t believe though that the state should be in the business of executing anyone though. IMHO.

      • tubi11

        Execution is not an appropriate response. Unfortunately, however, they will probably spend most of their time behind bars leading a prison ministry and passing along their vileness to others who might get out before them.

        • ravenclawwit

          I don’t know. They say that many convicts look very askance at people who abuse/kill children. I feel they may be in for some very unpleasant times.

    • ShoeUnited

      Capital punishment doesn’t seem to deter murders so why would a long prison sentence deter abuse?

      Capital Punishment has a negative effect on crime rates (crime rates go up the more it is used). Poor prison conditions have a negative effect on crime rates (poor quality prison produce more hardened inmates leading to repeat offenders). Good prison conditions with therapy show to have a positive effect on crime rates (crime rates go down to avoid going to prison, those in prison get help/reformed and so repeat offense rate goes down).

      There’s a lot of other examples, look at most of western Europe.

      • smrnda

        I think that you can only reduce crime by reducing factors that lead to crime; as you’ve pointed out, death sentences and horrible conditions of prisons don’t do it.

        • ShoeUnited

          Agreed, but taking prison on its own terms. Better conditions and better care do more than anything. Still, prison itself is more of a deterrent than capital punishment.

  • C Peterson

    A reasonable society would recognize the pastor and book authors as accessories to these crimes, or perhaps co-conspirators.

    • CottonBlimp

      Advocating immoral or illegal activity falls under the current Supreme Court definition of Free Speech, for better or worse. The Pearls could have written a book telling people to commit murder and it wouldn’t be against the law.

      • Guest

        Ever heard of sedition?

        • CottonBlimp

          The current Supreme Court precedent overturned the “fire in a crowded theater” standard previously used to excuse imprisonment for “sedition”, and with very good reason.

      • the moother

        Ever heard of incitement? There is no first amendment protection for for that. I think that’s what CP means.

        • CottonBlimp

          There’s a very specific precedent set by the SC for what counts as incitement – it means telling people to commit a specific crime at a specific time. For example, running out in the street and screaming “EVERYONE RIOT!” is illegal, writing a book saying “Everyone should riot on November 4th” is illegal, writing a book that just says “to fix America, we need to violently riot” isn’t.

          Obviously, I think the Pearls are really repulsive people, but if it weren’t legal to advocate breaking the law in speech, we never would have advanced on issues like gay rights or legal marijuana.

          • the moother

            Which part of “you should beat your kids with a 1/4″ hose” isn’t incitement then?

            • CottonBlimp

              The part of my last post you apparently didn’t read.

              If you need further clarification, it’s not “incitement” that’s the exception, it has to incite “imminent lawless action”. In the court case that established this new precedent, (Hess v. Indiana) the Court specifically said that the 1st Amendment protected “advocacy of illegal action at some indefinite future time,” which sort of applies to this instance.

              • the moother

                “Sort of”????

                So, I could then write a book saying that Mexicans are lazy and smelly thieving and we should beat them with a 1/4″ hose to get them to do something about their honesty and apathy and personal hygiene.

                Could I write that book?

                • Feminerd

                  Legally? Yes, you can write that book.

                • ShoeUnited

                  Yes of course you could write that book. It isn’t good or kind, but you’re free to write it. Good luck finding a publisher, maybe the Klan still prints its own books.

                  As it is, you should still have the right to express yourself. As do those bad people above. The dividing line between expression and incitement is the power to carry it through. A book has a large division between saying what you want and compelling others to act on it.

                • WillBell

                  Yes. As long as you don’t set a date for it. ;)

                • latinista

                  Nice, indirect way of introducing your OWN bigotry, señorita!

                • Spuddie

                  YES. Some people will think its satire. Finding a publisher who thinks they can sell it in bookstores or online can be a bit dicey.

      • baal

        I don’t know. I’m pretty staunch on free speech but when a book / movement / pastor advocates negligence and abuse to the point of hospitalization or death and kids wind up hospitalized or dead (and the parents are followers of that book or pastor) I think it’s criminalize able for the advocates of the abuse. The case is narrowly drawable with the specific showings required that I have listed here. I don’t think it’ll be all that chilling beyond rabid nut jobs.

        • CottonBlimp

          It’s not the job of the government to determine which opinions are and aren’t legal to voice. I think the Pearls are total shitbags, but the purpose of the law is to foster a safe environment for society, not to punish people for being evil. The Williams are adults, the choice to beat and murder their own children was theirs.

          There were a lot of battles that led up to Free Speech becoming as broadly interpreted as it now is, and almost all of them were instances of the government cracking down on peaceful protests. Evil people will always prosper, and trying to punish evil will never work as well as fostering good.

          • Stev84

            I might be more inclined to agree with you if the US weren’t such a highly dysfunctional society. There is simply no evidence to show that its permissive views on speech lead to any greater good. Not compared to other comparable countries.

            • CottonBlimp

              My question would be WHY is the US so highly dysfunctional? In many areas of our country it’s because sensible, practical policies take a backseat to emotional hysterics and pious sanctimony. For example, our law-enforcement and prison system is an embarrassment precisely because we’re more obsessed with what criminals “deserve” instead of practical solutions that rehabilitate and minimize recidivism. Pro-lifers are more concerned with punishing sluts than reducing abortions. Anti-prostitution laws punish prostitutes instead of their johns or captors. Anti-drug laws pointlessly punish addicts and otherwise-law-abiding citizens.

              If you want a functional society, you need to get out of the headspace of wanting retribution no matter who gets hurt in the crossfire. It’s just catharsis, it’s not productive or valuable in any way.

      • C Peterson

        I did say a reasonable society. And there are exceptions to free speech protections. Of course, there are no protections at all from civil actions in a case like this.

        • CottonBlimp

          Personally, I don’t think burning books is the hallmark of a reasonable society.

          I just have to ask what you think arresting the Pearls would accomplish. The Williams weren’t dumbly following a book’s commands – they were acting on desires of violence and resentment and likely unexamined racism that the book simply pandered to. It’s not like taking that book away would have kept them from abusing their children. The idea to abuse children wasn’t invented by the Pearls. Hell, the Pearls were just citing the Bible, and good luck banning that.

          A reasonable society needs to stifle its desire for vengeance. By going after this book, you’re accomplishing nothing and destroying much.

          • C Peterson

            I don’t believe in vengeance. I think the sentences handed down were grossly inappropriate. I also believe that when people choose to live far enough outside the ethical standards of society, it is the responsibility of that society to protect itself.

            I don’t think our current society has the necessary mechanisms to deal with people like the Pearls. But I think a more rational, evolved society would.

            • CottonBlimp

              I agree about society, but that’s different than the law. Any limitation on free speech is not really going to affect people like the Pearls or the Williams, it’s going to be predominantly used against liberal protesters; which is exactly how it *was* used before Free Speech came to be interpreted so broadly.

              • C Peterson

                In our society, you are probably right. Not, I think, in a more mature one.

            • Spuddie

              I believe in vengeance. I think some acts are so far beyond the pale of society that punishment is the only response possible.

              Throwing them in jail for several decades is appropriate for me. We effectively take them out of society without having to resort to execution.

              • wmdkitty

                Humane confinement, medical/psychiatric care as needed (and make sure it’s quality care), goal of rehab for those who can hack it, and long-term confinement in an appropriate facility for those who can’t. And no more of these non-violent victimless “crimes” — they’re obviously a bogus tactic to increase revenue and — specifically in regards to the “War on (Some) Drugs” — acquire federal funding based on making a certain number of drug-related arrests. If they don’t make quota, they lose money.

                I wanna see the end of bullshit “crimes” (possession, sale, and use of “controlled substances”) and the whole lowest-bidder “let’s warehouse these people as cheaply as possible” corporate-run prisons.

                • Spuddie

                  I agree with you. Your suggestion should be the case for the overwhelming majority of those in prison.

                  I would only make an exception to that top tier of heinous acts which goes so far beyond the run of the mill criminal nonsense. The idea of outright punishment belongs to those crimes which are just pure inhumane conduct.

        • Astreja

          Oh, how I would love to see the Pearls bankrupted by a class-action suit of TTUAC-abused children.

      • Jay

        They get away with murder literally because they are doing it in god’s name. “Men never commit evil so fully and so joyfully as when they do it for religious convictions.”

      • Gehennah

        I’d argue that this would be similar to yelling fire in a movie theatre.

        • CottonBlimp

          Which is the old standard that has since been revised.

          By the way, the phrase “falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic” was coined by SC justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, in a verdict declaring that the US government was allowed to jail anti-war protestors. He was also a disgusting bigot who wrote the court opinion in favor of forced sterilization and eugenics, and his writings were cited by the Nazis in their defense at the Nuremberg Trials.

          Just, seriously, be more aware of the history of that hideous phrase.

      • Caradon

        Actually, it doesn’t and never has been covered by freedom of speech. It’s a criminal act and that is NOT protected.

    • Terry Firma
  • Art_Vandelay

    If these people really thought that was the best way to raise a child, why the fuck weren’t they doing it to their biological children? And for fuck’s sakes…when are adoption agencies going to start taking a good hard look at the religious beliefs of their clients? If anyone were to tell an adoption agency that they belonged to some unknown cult that has a holy book which states shit like “If you spare the rod you hate your child” or injunctions to throw unruly children in a hole and bludgeon them to death with rocks, they would never get to adopt a kid. But hey…as long as it’s endorsed by Jesus…it’s cool. That’s terrible.

    • Feminerd

      The biological kids were abused like that. They’d had their biological children since birth, though, so the kids instantly obeyed because they were trained to do so through Pavlovian fear of beatings. They’d had their spirits “broken” earlier. The new kids, suffering from culture shock and unused to a house in which a frown, a twitch, or anything other than instant smiling obedience was considered “rebellion”, suffered from being shoved headfirst into that kind of abusive environment.

      • Mario Strada

        But I also read accounts where the “darker” children were adopted as in house slaves and treated very differently from the biological ones. Let’s not forget these are white supremacists. Not the kind with a shaved head and combat boots, but the kind that truly believe their skin color is a sign their god favors them above all others and their duty is to harvest souls for jesus.

        • Feminerd

          Yes, that happens sometimes. I just don’t know that this was the case with Lydia or Hana.

          • Art_Vandelay

            It seems odd that they authorized the biological children to join in on the abuse.

            • Feminerd

              I strongly suggest you read Love, Joy, Feminism here by Libby Anne. She grew up in a TTUAC household, and it was common for the older children to be authorized to abuse the younger ones (they didn’t put it like that, of course). Basically, delegating “discipline”. It’s not uncommon in families like that.

              • Art_Vandelay

                Of course it’s not uncommon but that’s kind of my point. Once you start bringing in the biological children to help kick the shit out of the adopted children, you can stop pretending like this shit is biblically endorsed. I know holy books can justify a parent abusing a child but I haven’t seen anything about bringing in other children to do your dirty work.

                • Feminerd

                  Surrogate parenting, basically. Letting a child act as parent, passing authority (temporarily and incompletely) down the line.

                  It only makes sense if you see families as hierarchies where power can be delegated to lower ranking members.

          • Mario Strada

            Neither do I of course. But since it happens, there is a more than null chance it was the case, at least to a certain degree.

  • Savoy47

    To the theists that ask where does an atheist get their morals if
    not from God? From the same place that makes me ill reading about what these
    people did to this child.

  • CassandraJK

    When I read articles like this one, I really wish there were such a place as Hell. Eternal torment sounds about right for these creatures.

    • Obazervazi

      Still a bit much. I’d estimate a few centuries of torment might be enough.

    • Matt D

      I noticed you did not wish for a place like Heaven for the little girl, but find it satisfying to consider eternal torment appropiate for the parents. There’s something odd about that, but I can’t put my finger on it.

      • CassandraJK

        I tend to get rather savage when it comes to people who deliberately torture others, especially children. As I don’t believe either place exists, I find nothing odd about it.

        • Matt D

          I knew you were savage when you considered vengeance = justice, I just wonder where it ends when both sides are composed of savages.

          • Spuddie

            I knew you were a worthless piece of garbage when you started berating people who are full of righteous justifiable rage over such a horrible event. People are pissed off and for good reason. Your little snide remarks are exactly the kind of holier than thou attitude which garners so little respect from others.

            It ends when people stop making excuses for bad behavior using fairy tales, myth and religion.

      • Spuddie

        I noticed you didn’t get the point that Cassandra doesn’t believe in an afterlife at all. She just wants to see bad things befall these people due to the outrageous nature of the events. .

        Of course the problem with Heaven is it takes away the horrific nature of the crime. Instead of focusing on empathizing with the suffering of the little girl, you just salve your imagination with the notion that she is “in a better place”, so maybe it was not so bad.

        FUCK THAT!

        It was a horrible event and I don’t need it sugarcoated with phony homilies about innocent souls being rewarded in death.

  • Holytape

    Pastor Richard Long: “You know what? I keep using words, like ‘loving’ and ‘raise children appropriately’, and I just realized something. I have no fucking idea what those words mean. My last statement, although seminary school taught me to repeat it is nothing more than word salad to me. So can you give me a little help here.”

    Interviewer: “Well, ‘loving’ means that you show affection for or towards. That you care about the happiness and well-being….”

    Pastor Richard Long: “Really? Are you shitting me? That’s what loving means. I thought it meant ‘to torture your only begotten Son.’ Caring, really? And I just called a couple who beat, starve and fucking froze to death a child that they purposely took into their house, ‘loving.’ Holy fuck, I am a moron. And let me guess, ‘raise children appropriately’ is in no way a synonym for ‘under no circumstance are you to treat a fellow human being like this’. Jesus Christ, I mean I am a complete fucking twat.”

    • Fred

      Nailed it!

    • Jack Dowell

      I was really, really hoping that when I clicked on the link I would find that the pastor had followed that by saying something along the lines of “Obviously, they did not act according to their ability to be good people,” or just something to show he understands that what they did was wrong. Instead, I found that he followed up by saying “I also firmly believe they have the ability to be healthy, contributing members of society.”

  • the moother

    Judge: I sentence you to forever for this heinous crime.

    Pastor: But they are awesome parents.

    Society: Umadbro?

  • David Kopp

    So what sentence are the Pearls and the pastor getting?

    • Gehennah

      I’d openly support going after the authors of this since this isn’t the first time this has apparently happened.

  • Peter Mountain

    Anyone disagreeing with how Larry and Carri Williams raise their children, just remember ~ they’re not perfect; just forgiven!


    There is no horror that cannot be, and hasn’t been, justified in the name of God, religion, and/or morality. These people should die in prison, owing the state a hundred years.

  • Cris Waller

    I think there’s a revealing error in what Terry wrote…he referred to the Pearl’s book title as “To Raise Up a Child,” but it’s really “To Train Up a Child.” Because these people don’t raise children…that implies nurturing, caring, helping- raising up, not beating down. Instead, they “train” them, like one does a wild animal, a dog, or the mules that Pearl compares children to… although a compassionate, thoughtful, reasonable person wouldn’t treat a mule the way these people advocate treating kids.

    • Terry Firma

      Shoot. You’re right, I flubbed the title. Will fix now. Thank you!

  • Oswald Carnes

    I hope they receive in prison 100 times what they inflicted on their children.

  • A3Kr0n

    I wonder how many other children are suffering horribly, but not dying because of this training method?

    • wmdkitty

      Too many.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    God, I hope those 7 kids never had children of their own if they think any of what happened is acceptable.

  • Carpinions

    I can’t even imagine the hell those adopted kids went through. Imagine coming out of a troubled place like Ethiopia, and being adopted into a lethally abusive household.

    I think I might take living in Ethiopia over the other option any day of the week.

    These hyper-conservative Christian groups that want to operate off the grid…I seriously question how much they truly “want” to have kids, because their methods are tortuous and abusive, and they do nothing but to create functional simians that as adults can put up a veneer of civility but behind closed doors are simmering tyrants that eventually lash at someone or something because it’s all they knew as kids. And this while they reap silver lining benefits from political correctness in the legal system, that allows far too much deference for human stupidity and barbarism to cloak itself in religion in order to escape justice.

  • Mackinz

    Absolutely sickening. These murderers probably believe they were doing right by God as well… ridiculous.

  • Cattleya1

    It is my sincere hope that these 2 evil people spend the remainder of their days rotting in jail with nothing but despair as their only companion.

    I find it appalling that the book they used as their recipe for torturing these 2 children – ‘How To Train Up A Child’ is still for sale on Amazon. I hope the rest of the readers of this blog will join me in writing and telling them of the horrible error of their ways – and boycotting them until they stop selling this book.

  • Sophelia

    One question that doesn’t seem to be being asked here is how these people passed a home-study that qualified them to adopt? When parents abuse biological children it is terrible, but in the case of adoption the responsibility spreads much further. What agency signed off that this was a fit and loving family? What agency did follow-up care that did not lead to any reporting of this abuse? How many other children has this agency placed, and with whom? From my perspective, every single adoption handled by this agency needs to be reviewed, urgently, and the children checked up on.

    • Feral Dog

      A lot of the agencies specializing in foreign adoptions are religiously-motivated and actually have less oversight than state-run agencies (practically none), despite this repeated pattern of outrageous abuse in the families these vulnerable children are placed in. So far as the adoption agency is concerned, nothing will come of it.

      • Sophelia

        I imagine the home study went like this: “What church do you attend? OK, we’re done!”
        The agency needs to be named and shamed in every media report on the case.

    • Sophelia

      According to a Slate article it seems like my assumptions are wrong:

      “In 2008 the Williamses decided to adopt. They looked to a nearby
      agency, Adoption Advocates International, a secular organization that
      was started by Merrily Ripley, a mother of 20, 17 of whom were adopted.
      AAI alerted them to a deaf Ethiopian child in need of a family. It
      seemed like a good match on paper. Before getting married, Carri had
      studied American Sign Language, with plans of becoming a sign language
      interpreter. She’d become a mother to seven instead, and wanted more
      children after pregnancy complications had left her unable to bear more
      herself. Carri and Larry completed a home study with AAI, apparently
      omitting information about the family’s disciplinary beliefs on a
      pre-adoption form admitted as court evidence. (Gay Knutson, director of
      social services for AAI, wouldn’t comment specifically on the Williams
      case, but says prospective adoptive families who spank would not be
      allowed to adopt from AAI—though some families have lied about their
      parenting practices to the agency.)

      After they’d decided to adopt Immanuel, the couple saw a 60-second
      video of a tearful but healthy young Hana and agreed to take her too.
      “Our heart went out to her,” Larry would testify. Both children came
      from an AAI-affiliated orphanage in Ethiopia called Kidane Mehret, and
      both were reportedly abandoned. In a process that the Ethiopian
      government no longer permits, the children flew to the United States
      with an escort, without ever meeting the Williamses. Early post-adoption
      reports from the first year—three brief reports from an AAI social
      worker who visited in the first six months and one from the Williamses
      themselves at the one-year mark—painted a bucolic, if undetailed
      picture: Immanuel learning to sign with his new siblings; Hana reading Little House on the Prairie.
      Medical charts show Hana growing from a slightly underweight 77 pounds
      when she first arrived to a plump 105 pounds six months later.

      But after June 2009, there is no evidence of further doctors’ visits,
      and no more post-adoption reports, as the Williamses stopped sending in
      the updates that they’d agreed to provide to AAI, but which weren’t
      required by law. (Once an adoption is finalized, adoption agencies no
      longer have the legal right to compel families to provide reports,
      explains AAI’s Knutson. She says these reports can be unreliable anyway,
      as parents self-report or may obscure their parenting practices in
      front of social workers.)”

      Although the agency certainly could and SHOULD have done more pre-placement, it seems like post-placement their hands would have been tied even if they had tried to probe further. America, you really need to reform your adoption system, seriously!

  • The Starship Maxima

    I can’t even feel horror or rage at this. I just feel a gnawing need to ask these parents just what the hell kind of Bible convinced them this was okay to do. I’ve read the Bible. Several times. It couldn’t have been the same book.

    • Anna

      It seems to be a huge problem within the evangelical and fundamentalist subculture. Few take it to the level of the Pearls, but the whole “you must beat a child with an implement until he or she is properly submissive” idea is advocated by plenty of other Christian parenting “experts.” Dobson, for one.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Yup. Killing a child is “raising them properly.” It’s biblical!

    • Gehennah

      Well that one guy had to sacrifice his daughter to god (sorry I completely blanked on the names there, been a long day).

      • Baby_Raptor

        Jephtaph, I believe his name was? He was one of the ones I was thinking of. And then there’s Abraham.

  • Anita Tippets

    28 and 37 years for murdering a child? They should be put to death!!!

    • Nick Wride

      What asshole gave a thumbs down to Anita? She’s right.

  • Caprica

    I was raised in a family of nine living children. My parents married because mum got pregnant. She became catholic and when the twins died, she decided it was gods will for their sinful actions. So, they continued to breed. Which would’ve been fine but really there was not enough love to go ’round, and all that implies. No one has any business breeding like that. It’s sick and incredibley selfish. No one can be available to every child in a positive and nurturing way, when there’s ten that need your attention on a personal and individual level. And yet, the catholic church continues to encourage the “go forth and be fruitful” load of crap as a way to feed the coffers, directly and indirectly.

  • ALSchiffer

    I feel like they just didn’t get enough years in prison, this is so ridiculous, how can you really sleep at night making a kid sleep outside, and in the cold, and eating and never feeding them. What really hurts me is this poor little girl just took it because she probably felt as she deserved it, the poor poor girl. I hope they rot. or get fucked up in prison.

    Plus the owner of Megaupload, they wanted 50 yrs for him! These two scumbags TOGETHER make 65… What the actual fuck… (sorry for the cursing)

  • AtheistsAreUs

    I hope their children are raised in proper homes, with compassion and love instead of beatings and starvation.

  • Linda Lemke

    I loathe bible trumpeters who misinterpret and misuse the words in the Bible to condone their own sick and demented actions. The people who starved and beat this sweet child are sick and mean. The devil did not make them do this and neither did the Bible verses. They are sick and evil. All different religions attract different types of mentally ill people. People who are “hearing voices” will go to a church that can explain that to them. It goes on and on……….
    The big question still remains “How did these people get so demented?” They were usually beaten as children and came to believe that they “deserved” it. I could go on and on but it would not help the little one who suffered at their sick hands, This is not about religion or atheism.

  • Inuhime

    Call it god or karma, but they will get what they deserve, Sooner or later. I don’t believe jail is enough punishment for the horrible death those poor children endured at the hands of people who where supposed to give them a better life and a chance at a happy future. I hope their 7 children get counseling and a proper education on what is right and wrong. They will seriously need it.

  • Nick Wride

    You’re entitled to your religion and to worship your imaginary friends all you want. You are NOT entitled to kill your children or anyone else with it. The Pearls, who wrote the book these animals followed should go to prison, as well.

  • heatherjoyw

    How is 37 years long enough for this crime? It’s not, they murdered this girl, and they didn’t do it humanely… If they had shot her they would have been in sentenced to life in prison at least.. This poor little girl suffered for years at the hands of these ass hats and all they get is a couple decades. I’m not advocating shooting your childern, however i think starving them to death is far more cruel.

  • JA

    As part of their sentences, they should be subject to daily whippings with a 1/4″ plumbing line.

  • Niemand

    Next I’d like to see the surviving child make a civil suit against the Pearls and anyone else who inspired this abuse. The parents are hideous, but the people who inspired their behavior should not get off the hook entirely.

  • Dillon Johnson

    massive sentence!? 28 and 37 years for murder of a child?

    beating, starving, torturing, nelgecting and eventually killing a kid deserves much more than 28 and 37 years