A jury convicted Beal of child abuse as a party to a crime because multiple witnesses testified that he punched his girlfriend’s daughter and also restrained the daughter so that her mother (his girlfriend) could hit her. See §939.05(2)(a) and §939.45(5). Beal argued that although he was not entitled to assert the parental discipline privilege himself, he should have been able to present a defense based on his girlfriends’ right to assert that privilege.
The court of appeals disagreed. It was not necessary for the State to charge or convict the girlfriend/mom before charging and convicting the boyfriend. Thus, he couldn’t take advantage of his girlfriend’s affirmative defense to child abuse. State v. Shears, 68 Wis. 2d 217, 240, 229 N.W.2d 103 (1975). Slip op. ¶15.
Beal cited a recent unpublished court of appeals decision where a preacher was convicted of child abuse as a party to a crime for encouraging parents to strike kids as young as 3 months old. State v. Caminiti, 2013AP730-CR (Ct. App. Mar. 20, 2014). See our post here. Beal noted that the preacher asserted a defense based on the parents’ “reasonable discipline” privilege and argued that he should be permitted to do so too. The court of appeals response: we did not hold that the preacher could assert the privilege; the parties agreed that he could. Slip op. ¶15 n.3