A Christian North Carolina Little League Coach, Jonathan Russell has been jailed for spanking the kids on his team because he felt like it was his Christian duty.
Russell, a coach for Little League players aged eight to nine, reportedly spanked the bare bottoms of the little boys on his team repeatedly. According to Patheos, the 33-year-old Little League coach was accused, admitted to and was convicted of “pulling down child victim’s pants and his underwear and spanking him on his buttocks multiple times with his hands.”
Russell’s abuse of the young boys took place without the children’s parents knowing or giving permission, according to reports.
During his prosecution, Little League Coach Jonathan Russell tried to explain away his horrendous child abuse to the court by citing his Christian convictions.
“If you fail to spank, you don’t take God seriously.”
The court wasn’t buying Russell’s excuses, and the Little League coach was reportedly sentenced to 60 days in jail plus 18 months probation after pleading guilty to his crimes.
He officially pleaded guilty to four counts of misdemeanor assault on a child under 12.
Many are saying that his crimes were more severe than his charges and definitely more severe than his slap-on-the-wrist punishment for not just beating elementary-aged boys but also touching their bare behinds. During his court appearance, Little League coach Russell told the court that he only spanked the young boys because of the instructions he’d received from a Christian child rearing manual Shepherding a Child’s Heart. According to the book, which is marketed to Christian parents and childcare givers, spanking is essential if a parent wants to prove that they love their child. The Christian Little League coach even quoted the passage directly from the book during his time before the court.
“If you fail to spank, you don’t take God seriously and don’t love your child enough.”
The Christian parenting book was authored by pastor Tedd Tripp, and it is controversial even among Christians. The most conservative, apparently including Little League coach Russell, agree that it is a popular and beneficial tool for raising children. Critics argue that the manual simply gives child abusers, such as the Christian Little League coach, a “biblical justification” to beat their children.
Or the neighbor’s kids, in the case of the Christian coach.
One child said that the bare-bottomed spankings, which always took place at the Christian coach’s home, were preceded by Russell giving the kids a warning.
“What happens at Coach Russell’s house stays at Coach Russell’s house.”
According to a report from the Citizen-Times, parents of the Little League coach’s multiple victims were horrified by the abuse their children endured at the hand of the Christian coach Russel. Indeed, many of their children are reportedly still dealing with the emotional scars that came from the repeated physical abuse their coach subjected them to.
One mother said that her son had been abusively spanked by the Christian Little League coach for the offense of saying the phrase “dang it.” According to the mother, her child still suffers with wounds that can’t be fixed by doctors, time or a jail sentence.
“I had no words for (my son) that would erase the fear and embarrassment that this man made him feel from this humiliating and sadistic manner. The acts of this man have left wounds that a Band-aid or doctors can’t heal.”
“It was a parent’s nightmare. (My son) told me he had been assaulted by his coach and that’s why he didn’t want to play baseball anymore … He loved baseball.”
That same mother went on to describe the changes to her child’s behavior as a result of the abuse he endured at the hands of coach Russell. She told the court that her son is far from recovered from the repeated abuse that he was subjected to by the trusted adult.
“He doesn’t allow people to hug him. In the weeks leading up to this trial, he started sleeping out on the recliner because he was afraid Coach Russell will come and hurt him again.”
Yet another mom said that the Christian Little League coach used his religion in a “sick and twisted way.”
“I detest you and what you did to my son … That is just sick that you humiliated my child.”
Following his guilty plea and failed explanations for the abuse he subjected the children on his team to, coach Russell was immediately taken into custody and transported to jail.
Christian Little League coach Jonathan Russell will not be allowed to be alone with a child under 18 or participate in an activity with a child under 18 as a condition of his impending probation.
[Image by Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock]