Mary and Caleb Beery
Source: Presentence Investigation, of Mary Beery
Caleb and Mary Beery, currently members of San Tan Reformed Baptist Church (an ARBCA church) have both been charged with three felony criminal counts of child/vulnerable adult abuse. The alleged abuse occurred between January 23, 2016, and February 20, 2017. The victim of the abuse was their foster daughter. According to the criminal charges the baby girl would have been between one and fifteen months old at the time of the abuse. The baby was removed from their home in March of 2017. She was then sixteen months old.
My source for this story told me that the baby was “disciplined” by “beating severely on the bottom to the point of deep bruises and blisters (much in the manner of Chantry, it seems).
(Editor’s note: I had originally reported parents of the Beery’s reported the abuse to authorities. I later was told that a church nursery worker was the one who first noticed the abuse and reported it.)
(Editor’s note 11-23-2018: According to official court records, specifically the Presentence Investigation, Pastor Frank Urquidez of the former San Tan Reformed Baptist Church (now defunct), was the individual who initially reported the abuse to DCS.
This from the Presentence Investigation: “Detective Avilez was assigned to conduct follow up investigation, and made contact with Frank Urquidez, who was the reporting party for the case. Frank stated that he had been contacted by Caleb’s parents, who live in Indiana. Frank stated he received an email from them expressing their concern that Caleb and Mary had been excessively physically disciplining L.O. After receiving the information, Frank spoke with Caleb and Mary about the information he received, and they admitted to him that they spanked L.O. and knew it was against their foster agreement. Along with other members of the church, they observed L.O.’s buttocks area, and saw that she had clear injuries to her buttocks and upper thigh areas. Frank then contacted DCS to report abuse.”)
I commend former ARBCA pastor, Frank Urquidez for handling this case as in a manner which complies with Arizona law. I also commend the parents of Caleb Beery for doing the right thing, even though it must have been incredibly difficult for them to inform Frank Urquidez of the abuse their son and daughter-in-law had committed against the young foster child in their care.
Among the court documents were several letters from family members who testified to what fine, upstanding individuals Caleb and Mary Beery are. Below is a copy of a letter written by Dan Wesner, Mary’s brother. I don’t know who the genius was that recommended this letter be included in the submission to the Court, but I believe it likely had the opposite of its intended effect.
Take note of these sentences:
“This love compelled them to seek to do the most good for [her] in every way possible.”
Tell me how “excessively physically disciplining” (Caleb Beery’s parent’s words) or scalding (in the words of the professional medical staff of Banner Ironwood Hospital) in any way seek to do the most good for the baby? (Reference – Presentence Investigation)
“I observed a zeal and passion from Caleb and Mary to do the very best for [her], which prompted them to seek compliance in areas where they felt [she] was disobedient.”
I can’t even… I guess that little fourteen-month-old girl just wasn’t being compliant when she didn’t come when called. But not to worry, the Beery knew how to ensure compliance. They would use excessive physical discipline according to Caleb’s parents; discipline that Caleb admitted “had gone too far the last time;” discipline that the professional medical staff at Banner Ironwood Hospital classified as “injuries[which] were more consistent with the child being dipped in scalding hot water, rather than being spanked with a spatula.” (Reference – Presentence Investigation)
Prior to getting to legal considerations let me say that my wife and I served as foster parents many years ago in Missouri. We had to sign a legal document stating that we would not use corporal punishment on any foster child. I have heard that Arizona has similar documents. Therefore, regardless of your opinions on corporal punishment, you have given your word that you will not spank a child left in your care by the State. End of story.
The goal of discipline is to teach the child self-control, self-reliance, self-esteem and orderly conduct through approved and prescribed interventions. Use of unacceptable methods of discipline upon children in state custody will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Resource parent will not punish or maltreat a child and will not allow any other person to do so. Family Foster Parent Licensing Requirements, AZ R6-5-5833, specifies that punishment or maltreatment of a child or youth in care includes but is not limited to the following actions:
- any type or threat of physical hitting or striking inflicted in any manner upon the body;
Note to all those whose critical thinking skills are negligible, if you hold to the belief that corporal punishment is mandated by the Bible don’t become a foster parent!
May I also add that if you think the Bible mandates that you beat a baby please refrain from having any children.
Additionally, if you are attending a church that encourages you to spank a one-year-old child I would suggest finding a new church.
“At most, they used slightly too much or the wrong type of force, accidentally crossing the line and creating the markings seen in the relevant discovery photographs.”
“Slightly too much or the wrong type of force?” Is that why Bruce Feder, defense attorney for Mary Beery, was attempting to keep the case from a jury trial?
No, in my opinion, Bruce Feder knew that if a jury saw the photographic evidence of the injuries inflicted upon the fourteen-month-old infant in the care of the Beerys, there was very little chance of an acquittal. The Beerys have claimed, and continue to claim that they spanked the infant with a spatula. Caleb Beery has denied under oath that they scalded the child. The professional medical staff at Banner Ironwood Hospital as well as the adoptive parents of the infant child have accounts which contradict the Berry’s account. It is left to the reader to decide who is being truthful.
Now we get down to some really good lawyering. Bruce Feder, Mary Beery’s defense attorney, apparently argues that under the First Amendment the Beerys have a religious right to punish the foster baby in their care in the manner they did! Therefore, he argues the felonies should be reduced down to misdemeanors and the defendant given supervised probation!
It appears the State didn’t agree with the Defense. They apparently had a meeting scheduled for June 25 where the Defense hoped they could wrap everything up. I think the State must have balked at dropping the felonies to misdemeanors, instead likely insisting on some prison time. The result was the Defense pulled out of the negotiations and as it stands a trial will be held in October.
Religious Influences on the Beerys
“The child’s problem is not an information deficit. His problem is that he is a sinner. There are things within the heart of the sweetest little baby that, allowed to blossom and grow to fruition, will bring about eventual destruction.”
― Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart
“Respectful teenagers are developed when they are 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, not at 13, 14, 15, or 16.”
― Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart
“Tedd Tripp is Pastor Emeritus of Grace Fellowship Church in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, where he served from 1980 until 2012. Tedd is the author of A Parent’s Handbook for Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Hints for Parents, and with his wife, Margy, Instructing a Child’s Heart.”
(Editors note: I had previously stated Tedd Tripp’s church was a member of ARBCA but was told they left ARBCA in 2002. My apologies to Grace Fellowship Church and Tedd Tripp.)
Though Tripp was no longer connected with ARBCA, it seems his teachings may still have been influential in some ARBCA churches. Obviously, Tripp would never advocate the abuse which occurred in the Beerys case, but it’s concerning how some “zealous” individuals have carried the discipline of children to dangerous extremes. Additionally, it appears Tedd Tripp and pastor Jon Hueni are friends. Tripp thanked Hueni and his wife, Joann for their help while he was writing his book “Shepherding a Child’s Heart.” He mentioned them in the books Preface. It would be reasonable to think that Hueni agrees with the principles in Tripp’s book and may even use material from the book as he teaches his congregation about raising children. Why is this significant? Because Hueni is an ARBCA pastor in Bremen, Indiana and Mary Beery was raised in his church. Caleb Beery also attended his church for several years.
Here is a condensed video of a Tedd Tripp interview. It seems to me to be a very short leap from what he is advocating to what the Beery’s stance on discipline seems to be. (To view the complete video, see here.)
Tedd Tripp teaches 1) employ the rod at the first sign of defiance; 2) apply the rod with the diaper or drawers down so the child feels the sting on their bottom or thigh 3) best to apply the rod with the child over your lap so there is a physical connection between you and the child and 4) hug the child afterwards – if they are not accepting of the hug or their heart is not yet sweet, continue to use the rod until it is!
Additionally, here is a short segment from a sermon preached by Frank Urquidez which, I believe, may shed some light into the Beery’s treatment of the foster baby that was in their care.
(Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 11-23-2018.)