Philip Caminiti, a Black Earth pastor, was found guilty on eight counts of conspiracy to commit child abuse for advocating to his parishioners that they should use a wooden rod to beat their children, reports the Wisconsin State Journal.
He set no age limit. Children as young as two-years-old were eligible to feel the rod.
A Dane County Wisconsin jury took a mere two hours to come to their verdict regarding the 54-year-old pastor’s fate. The short deliberation time was probably attributed to the fact that the case revolved around the beatings of young children, speculates Assistant District Attorney Shelly Rusch.
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As leader of the Aleitheia Bible Church, Caminiti would instruct church members and his own adult children to beat crying infants and toddlers with wooden spoons and dowels on their bare bottoms. According to the pastor, the bible encouraged these types of disciplinary beatings in order to punish an infant or toddler who was crying a “selfish” manner. Assistant District Attorney Shelly Rusch debated during Caminiti’s trial that his teachings took discipline to a level that was obscene. “What we have here are babies and children trying to develop into individuals,” Rusch told the jury in her closing argument, “and it’s being beaten out of them.”
Caminiti’s charges allege that two of the children beaten by followers of his doctrine were only two months old. When the beatings were stopped by authorities in 2010, the oldest victim was only five years old.
Ironically, the pastor was well aware that the punishments were illegal and instructed congregants to never strike their children while out in public. He never personally participated in carrying out the abuse himself.
Caminiti’s brother, John, pleaded guilty last year to causing mental harm to a child and two counts of child abuse. He was sentenced to a year in prison and eight years of probation.
Several members of Caminiti’s family are also facing child abuse charges.
Caminiti faces up to six years of combined prison and extended supervision on each count and is facing sentencing in two months. In the meantime, he remains free on a signature bond but cannot leave Dane County.