New Haven, CT – A minister who had spanked two children of his congregation with a belt was acquitted of assault and risk-of-injury charges early this month.
After deliberating for 1½ hours, the six-member jury found Rev. Walter Oliver, 66, not guilty on all counts. When the verdict was read, Oliver embraced his lawyer amidst cries of “God is good” and “Thank you, Jesus” from his supporters.
During the two-day trial, testimonies by the boys, their mother, and two police investigators stated that Oliver administered the spankings several times in 2000, leaving a mark on one of the boy’s leg.
Oliver acknowledged administering what he calls “holy spankings” when the boys, 11 and 12 at the time, disobeyed their mother. He did so with the mother’s permission, acting under biblical advice. “If you beat him, he will not die, but you will save his soul from hell,” Oliver said, quoting from Proverbs.
Defense lawyer Norm Pattis said that the boys did feel pain, adding that spankings are supposed to hurt. The action did not injure the boys’ health, and Oliver did not act with criminal intent, he argued.
“There is no law against spanking,” Pattis said.