The 27 month sentence handed down yesterday to Christopher Alan Carlson, 45, was the minimum sentence that could have been imposed. U.S. District Judge Frederick Martone took into account the facts that the young grandfather loved his grandchildren, and had suffered all his life from attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity. He was just trying to get the kids in better physical shape.
Originally charged with six offences, Carlson was convicted in February of three counts of child abuse after he forced his three grandchildren, aged 8, 9, and 12, on brutal hikes in the Grand Canyon last August. He could have received up to 17 years in prison.
Carlson was quoted by the Indianapolis Star
as telling the court, "I love my grandchildren greatly. I wanted to afford these children a beautiful opportunity at a young age to experience something magnificent."
The first hike took place on Aug. 15 when the boys were forced to hike for 7.5 miles. Park rangers spoke to Carlson after receiving complaints from other hikers. But the grandfather forced the children to go on another hike on Aug. 28.
When rangers saw the family on this occasion, they separated the three boys from their grandfather. As reported by ABC News
, the boys said they were given little food and water, were hit, pushed, kicked with steel toed boots, and thrown into cactus plants. When they could, they managed to drink from the Colorado River that caused them to throw up multiple times.
The temperature on Aug. 28 exceeded 100°F. The boys showed early signs of heat stroke and another hiker died that day as a result of the heat.
All three grandchildren testified against Carlson. The oldest is quoted in the Indianapolis Star
as saying, "I needed medical attention and I was hurting and he was hitting and pushing me and calling me fat."
It was the oldest grandchild who managed to ask another hiker, out of the presence of Carlson, to call for help because he was suffering from cramps, falling down, and his vision was starting to go.
Despite their ordeal, the Herald Sun
reports the three children love their grandfather and enjoyed travelling with him, presumably with the exception of the forced hikes.
Carlson has already spent 10 months in custody and unless he receives early release, will only have to spend another 11 months in custody. In addition to the jail time, the grandfather will be under supervised release for one year. He must undergo a psychological evaluation and take parenting classes. He cannot have any contact with the victims without permission.
The three boys are currently living with their grandmother.