"If you find a 12-step book in an alcoholic's house, you wouldn't blame the book," fundamentalist Christian minister and "To Train Up a Child" co-author Michael Pearl told The New York Times in an interview.
His book, which he wrote with his wife, Debi Pearl, advises parents to use objects including a 1/4-inch flexible plumbing line to spank children. The plumbing line, which the book recommends be cut into 15-inch lengths, "can be rolled up and carried in your pocket," the book says.
It suggests withholding food -- "a little fasting is good training" -- and putting children under a cold garden hose for potty-training lapses.
The book, which a United Press International check found ranks No. 1 among Amazon.com Christian, family-relationship and self-help books, has been linked by police, pediatricians and parents to the deaths of Sean Paddock, Lydia Schatz and Hana Grace-Rose Williams -- three children whose parents allegedly read it.
In the latest case, Larry and Carri Williams of Sedro-Woolley, Wash., pleaded not guilty to homicide after their daughter, Hana, an Ethiopian girl they adopted in 2008 when she was 11, was found face down, naked and emaciated in the family's backyard. Her death was caused by hypothermia and malnutrition, officials determined.
The parents had deprived her of food for days at a time and made her sleep in a cold barn or a closet and shower outside with a hose, the sheriff's report indicated.
The couple also often whipped her, leaving marks on her legs, the report said. And Hana was beaten the day of her death with the 15-inch plastic tube Peale's book recommended, the report said.
Carri Williams had praised the Pearls' book and given a copy to a friend, the sheriff's report said.
Pearl, who runs No Greater Joy Ministries, told the Times the tube was "too light to cause damage to the muscle or the bone" and was therefore "a good spanking instrument."
The Skagit County prosecutor said he was not charging the Pearls in the homicide case. He said the case did not depend on the Williamses' readings or religion.