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Judicial CP - March 2008

Corpun file 20098


Naples Daily News, Florida, 13 March 2008

Collier deputy spanked, threatened to tase 11-year-old boy, report says

By Ryan Mills

A Collier County sheriff's deputy was suspended for two days in January after an internal investigation revealed she spanked an 11-year-old boy with his mother's permission, held her Taser stun gun to his shoulder, and threatened to shock him with it.

In addition to the suspension, Cpl. Susan P. Boylan, 42, was given six months probation, a letter of reprimand, a final warning and remedial Taser training for violating department policies about Taser deployment and use of force.

The recently released investigation revealed that on June 26, 2007, Boylan was called to a home in regards to an 11-year-old boy, who was out of control and throwing things because he didn't want to take out the trash.

The name of the boy, who is undergoing treatment at the David Lawrence Center, and the names of the boy's mother and counselor were redacted in reports.

When Boylan arrived, the boy was in his bedroom with furniture and toys all over the floor, according to reports. The boy ignored repeated commands to come out of his room.

"I said, 'We need to go somewhere else where we can sit down and talk about this,'" Boylan recalled during an internal interview. "He still would not comply. I took the Taser out of my holster, I removed the cartridge, I pointed it up to the ceiling, I discharged the trigger. I said, 'Do not make me use this on you. If I have to use it, I will.'"

The boy continued to stand in his room, tensing and bracing, the investigation said.

"I asked the mom, I said, 'Can I give him a whack on the butt?'" Boylan said. "She goes, 'Go ahead.' I took my left hand -- I put my Taser back -- I put the left hand on the shoulder. I cracked him on the butt."

Both Boylan and the counselor who reported the case said that on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the hardest spanking, Boylan's spanking was probably a two or a three, reports say.

Despite the spanking and the threat of being shocked, the 11-year-old still would not move. Boylan then placed her Taser on the boy's shoulder.

"'Do not make me use this on you,'" she reportedly told the boy.

The David Lawrence Center counselor told investigators that Boylan held the Taser to the boy's shoulder for five to 10 minutes until he walked into the living room. Boylan said it was only a minute or two, and that she never intended to shock the boy.

"I'm not going to use a Taser on a little kid," she told investigators. "If I had to, I would physically hold him and move him out, but I wasn't going to zap him. I was trying to intimidate him to get him to listen to me, to move."

In a conversation with the mother, Boylan suggested she use "corporal punishment" instead of simply attempting to ground the boy. She instructed the mother to purchase a ping-pong paddle because it wouldn't leave marks, the investigation revealed.

"The counselor told me that she didn't think that it was appropriate that I tell the mother to spank her child," Boylan said. "And I told her, 'Well, the State of Florida says that you can discipline your child.' She did not like me telling the mother that at all."

After speaking with her supervisor, the counselor reported the case to the Sheriff's Office because she said the boy's manner towards the deputy was "not at all threatening."

Boylan, who started with the Sheriff's Office in 2004 and earns $51,648 a year, was also removed from her duties as a Taser instructor and as a field training officer during her probationary period.

Naples News

Corpun file 20097


Arkansas Times, Little Rock, 21 March 2008

A court officer takes up the paddle

The ACLU is on the case in Forrest City.

The Arkansas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is looking into allegations that a juvenile probation officer in Forrest City has been physically disciplining children under his supervision -- spanking them with a leather belt and a paddle -- over minor discipline problems.

ACLU attorney Holly Dickson described for the Arkansas Times a letter she sent in early March to Circuit Judge Baird Kinney, whose judicial district includes St. Francis County and Forrest City. In that letter, Dickson detailed claims that juvenile probation officer William Hall had spanked probationers with both a belt and a wooden paddle, had threatened juveniles with physical punishment in court, and had bullied parents into signing consent forms to allow him to spank their children.

"We've heard that this wasn't just one incident -- that this was not an isolated incident," Dixon said. "The report that we had said that the probation officer has parents of the probatees sign a form saying they'll allow him to do this, and that he has made statements [to parents], 'If you don't sign this, we're going to send your child off to juvenile detention.' "

Dickson said the ACLU got involved because the charges, if true, constitute a clear violation of constitutional rights. "As far back as 1968, the courts have said that corporal punishment, even on convicted adult prisoners, violates the Eighth Amendment," Dickson said. "Since that type of punishment is unconstitutional as it applies to adults, it is certainly unconstitutional as it applies to juveniles."

Dickson said that Judge Kinney has responded to her letter. "[He] said that he had heard about a similar claim a couple weeks ago -- that he was surprised when he heard it, and that he told the probation officer that any threat or actual behavior had to be permanently quelled." Dickson added that Kinney's response never confirmed whether or not spanking or paddling had actually occurred.

Reached in Forrest City, Judge Kinney said the first he heard about the allegations that Hall was using corporal punishment was through a message left on his office phone around two weeks ago -- possibly, he said, one of the messages left by the Arkansas Times during our original inquiries about the case. "The day I heard," Kinney said, " I sent a message to [Hall] and said I don't know what it's about, but if you're doing that, we can't have that."

Kinney said that in a subsequent conversation with the probation officer, he was told that the spanking was an isolated incident -- that a single mother who was much smaller than her teen-age son asked Hall to physically discipline her child. Soon after that first conversation with Hall, Kinney said, he received a polite letter from the ACLU, inquiring about Hall's methods. He said that he showed the ACLU letter to Hall during a meeting with him and had Hall sign it. Kinney then faxed a copy back to Dickson, "to let her know that we had put him on notice that we had gotten a complaint against him."

"Again," Kinney said, "it's nothing that we asked him to do or that I knew anything about on the front end. I can't fix something that's already happened. Nobody has given me a complaint from a particular juvenile's family."

Calling the case a one-time incident, Kinney said that he has quelled the situation and informed Hall that corporal punishment of juvenile probationers won't be tolerated. While Kinney admitted toward the end of our conversation that he had heard that Hall used corporal punishment on juvenile probationers in the days before he came to the bench, he insists it won't happen again.

"He's a big fellow and he's old school and he was doing it [corporal punishment] before I started 18 years ago," Kinney said. "That doesn't mean that it's OK, but things have just changed a lot in the last 20 years. Maybe he's a little bit caveman-ish, but I'm going to stay on top of it and do the right thing."

Probation Officer Hall didn't return the Times' phone calls.

blob Follow-up: 7 April 2008 - ACLU reviews allegation of spanking by juvenile officer

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