May 30, 2008
Three years after Shawn Fraser landed in court for paddling his unruly son 36 times, the Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that spanking a child isn't necessarily abuse.
In a unanimous decision released Friday, the court declined to adopt a "bright-line rule that the infliction of any pain constitutes either physical injury or physical abuse, because to do so would effectively prohibit all corporal punishment of children by their parents."
And the state, wrote Justice Alan Page, "did not intend to ban corporal punishment."
Shawn Fraser found himself in the midst of controversy in 2005 when he tried to curb the behavior of his son Gerard, who was then 12 and weighed 195 pounds. When other discipline failed to work, he took a wooden paddle -- in 12-blow increments -- to his son's upper thighs. The spanking followed an incident in which Gerard ran away from home and lied about his whereabouts.
The boy called authorities after the paddling.
The Hennepin County District Court determined Gerard and his younger brother, Caleb, needed protective services, but the Court of Appeals reversed that ruling, determining the parents weren't physically abusive.
The Supreme Court's decision affirmed the Court of Appeals.
"We're elated," said Natalie Fraser, Shawn Fraser's wife. Shawn Fraser could not be reached for comment. As a condition of keeping the boys during the appeals, their father agreed not to spank them, said Jill Clark, who represented Natalie Fraser.
On Friday, Gerard Fraser, now 15, said he's glad the case is settled, because it was stressful for his family.
"They didn't, like, abuse us or anything," Gerard said. "I was a really bad kid."
Gerard said he doesn't get into much trouble anymore but if he and his brother, now 14, misbehave, their father withholds their allowances or revokes other privileges.
In its ruling last year, the Court of Appeals determined that, given Gerard Fraser's age and weight, the force used on him was moderate and the discipline was not cruel or excessive. The Court of Appeals also determined that the Hennepin County District Court finding that the home was a "dangerous environment" was premised on the erroneous finding of abuse.
The Court of Appeals said that for intervention to be justified, unreasonable force or cruel discipline that is excessive under the circumstances must be used. Hennepin County appealed that ruling.
Friday, the Supreme Court said that the evidence was insufficient to determine whether the boys were mentally or physically injured.
The Supreme Court declined to return the case to the district court for further findings.
"Almost three years have passed since the incident at issue, during most of which time the children have been living at home without apparent further incident," Page wrote.
A determination now as to whether the boys needed protection three years ago "seems a needless use of judicial resources."
The county attorney's office deferred requests for comment to the state Department of Human Services, which did not return a call late Friday.
"My client is very happy the long nightmare is over," said Jill Waite, Shawn Fraser's lawyer.
Staff writer Patrice Relerford contributed to this report. Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747
© 2008 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

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Please make note that I, Jessica Lynn Hepner the creator of What Every Parent Should Know, is not giving legal advice. I am not a lawyer. I am giving you knowledge via first hand experiences.

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Save A Life by Angie Kassabie

Save A Life by Angie Kassabie
I URGE ALL MY FRIENDS TO READ & SHARE THIS; YOU COULD SAVE A LOVED ONES LIFE BY KNOWING THIS SIMPLE INFORMATION!!! Stroke has a new indicator! They say if you forward this to ten people, you stand a chance of saving one life. Will you send this along? Blood Clots/Stroke - They Now Have a Fourth Indicator, the Tongue: During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00 PM Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead. It only takes a minute to read this. A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough. >>RECOGNIZING A STROKE<< Thank God for the sense to remember the '3' steps, STR. Read and Learn! Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions: S *Ask the individual to SMILE. T *Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. Chicken Soup) R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS. If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher. New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke. A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved. I have done my part. Will you?

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