Re-post original creation date 2011

Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

That is the question as more details emerge about the viral video of a father beating his teenage daughter; while most opinions leaned toward shock and outrage, especially upon finding out the raging man in the video was a family court judge, some views changed when they found out how old the video was, when it was discovered this could have been revenge for the father cutting off financial support to his now grown child including a Mercedes. Others have wondered how the video came into existence, how she knew the episode was going to take place, was it somehow staged? Similarly conflicting news reports state different reasons as to why she received what her father terms a spanking; one saying it was for stealing, another saying it was for being on the internet when she was not supposed to be. Unfortunately there will be no criminal charges filed because the statute of limitations, 5 years, has now expired; although the judge is currently under review it remains to be seen if any action will be taken to remove him from his position or have him disbarred since Texas makes a legal exception for corporal punishment. The issue that has yet to be determined is, was this corporal punishment or abuse, sparking an age old debate going back to the Old Testament. When does “spare the rod spoil the child” become a cloak for something else; when does it become abuse?

In this shocking video you hear this man easily twice the size of his 16 year old daughter saying lay down; I’ll spank you right in the f-ing face; using the words beat you into submission. Depending on which clip, or how much of the total video you see, it’s clear he’s repeatedly putting his entire body, all his strength into the blows he’s dealing his daughter for “illegally downloading some sort of digital media.” Something that went on for 7 minutes; her mother appearing in the video saying turn over on your butt and take it; take it like a grown woman. And this is a child who suffers from cerebral palsy which, in addition to physical limitations, can also cause cognitive delays. Further the video seems to contradict the judge’s account that he spanked her after she was caught stealing, as the video begins with a hushed conversation between the parents in which the father can be heard asking his wife if she (the daughter) turned it (the computer) back on without permission. As the beating both begins and progresses, the father is heard screaming you wanna put some more video games on; seeming to indicated her crime was putting/playing games on the computer at all. This is reiterated when toward the end of the video her mother is heard telling her not to touch anything on the computer other than her school work until she was told otherwise, highlighting that as her crime, not stealing. Even more disturbing is this again family court judge says on camera he feels he did nothing wrong other than discipline his daughter after being caught stealing. Only admitting to losing his temper and insisting she wasn’t hurt.

However According to her appearance on the new Anderson Cooper talk show Anderson Hillary Adams reveals she had bruises the following day and when she commented it hurt to walk her father’s response was reportedly, good, and he can be seen in the video hitting her legs to get her to comply with his command to lay on her stomach to receive the “spanking.” Her and her mother spent much of the segment both addressing many of the public’s questions and concerns, going one by one through public perception and comment explaining themselves; stating she posted the video online after the conversation with her father involving financial support pushed her over the edge, not because of loss of support, but rather the charged atmosphere of the confrontation. Going on to reveal she has a boyfriend who is very supportive and can provide bill stubs proving her father is not her primary means of monetary support. Her mother adding the reason she dropped out of college was because of her parents’ volatile relationship and crumbling marriage, events happening 4 years ago. Answering why she created the tape in the first place, at the time she didn’t know why could only sense something was going to happen and it was significant Also mentioned in response to the why the internet question the young woman referred to it as her world i.e. somewhere she felt safe. Disclosing she was looking for validation, confirmation that what she went through was more than discipline, more than spanking, that it did cross the line to abuse. Dealing with the accusation of revenge, it literally holds no water when she says she wants her dad to get help, be able to admit he’s wrong, give her that apology for going too far, describing him to one news outlet as a broken man, when she says she still wants a good relationship with her dad. Upon being asked if he should remain a judge she said wishing someone to lose their job was a bit harsh but that he should not be presiding over family court any longer.

Above you see some classic victim behavior, being able to somewhat predict when abuse will take place, feeling a desperate need to prove something is happening that is wrong; plus it can take years for victims of abuse to gather the courage to confront their abuser in even the smallest of ways no matter the type of abuse; be it physical, emotional or psychological. And victims will always do so in a place that feels safe, whether that is a physical location, opening up to an individual they trust or yes, posting a video on the internet, an arena where they, the victim, feel a sense of power and control over what is happening. What really solidifies his categorization as an abuser is not just the beating chronicled there, but he has repeatedly stated to the media the video looks worse than it is. Not only his denial of wrong doing but the language on the tape; instead of it being a spanking, being controlled, the way spanking advocates often purport that it is, he is the one completely out of control. Rather than clearly stating this is what you did, this is how many whacks you get, you hear him swearing, you see the mother get her to comply with lying on her stomach to take the “punishment” get hit once, mother then walking away. And next he’s charging back into the room with another belt saying he didn’t get his licks in, a situation screaming he did it as payback or revenge for some wrong he thinks she did to him. You see him towering over, yelling at girl cowered on the floor crying saying if she so much as looked at me funny, raised her voice, she would get more of the same. Abjectly hypocritical since he’s the one being loud and making threats. Another damaging point highlighted by the mother when they appeared on Anderson, the fact that he turned out the lights to avoid being seen; if he’s doing nothing wrong, why is he hiding it. If he is doing it solely to keep neighbors, passersby from prying into his business, blinds, curtains or other window coverings would have been a better solution, things that should be in place in a teenage daughter’s room especially. Perhaps most telling of all is his ex-wife’s explanation of her actions, the cord it struck with her right there on the show to hear him on the calling Hillary disobedient and the former wife saying that’s how she felt she had to be with him, obedient in order not to make things worse, describing being told to do things during the beating, feeling compelled to do so. So he cultivated a climate of fear not just for his daughter but his wife as well.

Independent of when it was done, what you have here is an abject failure to parent; judging by the comments in the video they gave her access to a computer with no limits, may or may not have intended it to be just for school work without telling her that, without employing blocking software and parental controls that would have prevented her from downloading anything at all, playing games if they didn’t want her to. Factoring in the ambiguity of why she received the, let’s call it what it is, beating, did she know what she supposedly downloaded was illegal, or how she did it was illegal; because, there are a host of sites offering free things that look legit, yet are not. Remember the young girl is 16 at the time the incident took place, suffers from cerebral palsy and while she looks perfectly normal, may suffer from any number of cognitive issues, facts only known to 3 people, her parents and herself. Outside of all that, there were far better ways to handle her alleged transgression; removing the computer entirely, stripping it down to only her schoolwork and educational materials, websites using the aforementioned blocking software and parental control, showing her the difference between legal and illegal downloading, red flags to avoid when downloading any material, steps that should have been taken when she first used the computer. Being a family court judge, her father had access to scared straight and diversion programs if he thought that’s what she needed to get her life on track, keep her on the right path, sadly he chose physical punishment first. Highlighting more disturbing truths, there is no indication she was a delinquent kid, repeatedly in trouble with the law; there are hints she might have had trouble in school, but again only they know of any learning problems contributing to that trouble.
Bringing us to the Mercedes and financial support people seem hung up on, despite what happened to her at 16 and a possible history of escalating abuse, here is a person who graduated high school, tried college, when that was unsuccessful went out and got a part time job, incidentally in an economy where even people with extensive work histories in professional fields are forced to take jobs in fast food and retail just to be employed, and yes some of them part time. Continuing she lives on her own, not with her mother or father, whether that’s with her boyfriend or independently is beside the point and frankly none of our, the public’s, business. Further her father’s complaint isn’t get a job, move out of my house, do something with your life; his comment/complaint was he was no longer going to support someone who’s only going to work part time at a video store. It’s a judgment on her life when everyone can’t be in a place of influence, power and money, particularly those who struggle academically; next, it was his choice to buy her a car at all, never mind such an expensive one. Additionally, how did he end up her primary supporter in the first place; perhaps he shouldn’t have ever put himself into that situation. Unfortunately like many abusers, it seems as if he is trying to buy her love or using financial support and an expensive car to assuage his guilt over the physical aggression, abuse he dealt his daughter, of which the video is just one example. Maybe she released the video because she was sick of being controlled. Or finally being on her own and able to survive without that financial intervention, she felt safe enough to tell someone what she went through.


Whether this was revenge or catharsis is immaterial; the public needed to know this is what a family court judge was doing to his own family, a family court judge presiding over the questioned actions of other parents, making decisions about whether parents get to keep custody of their children, deeming actions appropriate or not. Yes it is appalling; yes he should lose his ability to be a family court judge, if he cannot keep any better control over his actions in dealing with his own child. Because unlike other instances where a judge’s child may get in trouble with the police, break the law, be truant, this boils down to his actions more than hers; she didn’t rob a bank, she didn’t take money from someone or her parents’ wallet, she didn’t steal from the mall. He could very easily be mistaken in his accusation of her stealing; it could have been a perfectly legal download. Regardless of her actions, he didn’t have to hit her; if he was going to spank her he certainly should have been in better control of his emotions, left off the profanity, not used the entirety of his physical strength in delivering the blows. The yelling might be marginally acceptable or understandable seeing he was upset at her behavior, but not when it comes to the towering over her and making threats. Individuals in power must be held to a higher standard and his behavior calls into question his capability to do his job in the best interest of the children and families that come before him. It calls into question his perceptions of abuse; if he doesn’t think what he did was wrong or abusive, where does he draw the line between spanking and abuse? And what consequences does that perception hold for children of parents who come before him who may indeed be abusive and he not see it? We’ve seen it before children repeatedly returned to abusive, neglectful homes until they finally turn up dead. So again, the last thing we, as a nation, the people in Texas, need is a judge who is possibly going to perpetuate a cycle of violence.

People have remarked Hillary Adams set her father up; she wants something from all this. Yes she wants something but it’s far from what some seen to think; she wants her father to be the man she needs him to be and it’s not about money. She said herself she wants him to get help, she wants him to realize he was wrong, to understand the gravity of what he did both there and in other incidents along with the obvious effect it had on her. She wants him to be the loving man she craves as a father figure. At the same time she wants him prevented from coming to the wrong conclusion in another young person’s life. These are not the goals of someone out for revenge, looking to gain something; she was genuinely unprepared for all the attention she has received and as she told Anderson Cooper, unprepared for the number of people who saw that video and commented that they came to the realization they were in a bad situation, they were being hurt and it needed to stop. Not the typical picture of either a gold digger or someone looking for their 15 minutes of fame; in fact some victims’ advocates would say Ms. Adams needs professional help, counseling because she clearly doesn’t see the total severity of his behavior, is still seeking an unhealthy relationship. Revenge or catharsis doesn’t matter; exposing abuse and a hypocritical use, misuse of power matters more.