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'Hot sauce' mom child abuse trial begins

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Opening statements began in the child abuse case against the Alaska "hot sauce" mom, whose televised punishment methods led to complaints and charges.

Jessica Beagley of Anchorage is accused of abusing her adopted Russian son by putting hot sauce in his mouth and forcing him into a cold shower as punishment for bad behavior. Beagley, 36, faces a misdemeanor count of child abuse.

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In her opening statement Wednesday, municipal prosecutor Cynthia Franklin told jurors the abuse case centered around videos Beagley sent to the nationally syndicated "Dr. Phil" show, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Franklin said the tapes would show Beagley disciplining one of the twin boys she and her husband, an Anchorage police officer, had adopted from Russia by putting hot sauce in his mouth and placing him in a cold shower, the prosecutor said.

RELATED Lawsuit: Hot sauce too hot

"You will see some of the videos Jessica Beagley made, including the one that was clipped up, put on 'Dr. Phil' and prompted the calls to [Anchorage police]," Franklin said.

The child was forced into the shower "here in Alaska, with the water tap turned all the way to cold," Franklin said.

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Beagley's lawyer, William Ingaldson, said the case wasn't about whether his client "used a punishment that you or I would use. … It's about Jessica Beagley being charged with criminal child abuse."

For the punishment to be criminal, prosecutors must prove it was cruel, gratuitous and done with the intent to inflict pain, among other things, Ingaldson said. None of the criteria fit the case, he said.

"She wanted to be and still wants to be a good mom," Ingaldson said.

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