Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Light Sentence for Man Who Denied Grandkids Water on Hot-Weather Hike

Christopher Carlson. Police photo.

A 45-year-old Indianapolis grandpa was been sentenced to 27 months in jail Thursday after pleasing guilty to three counts of child abuse.  Prosecutors said Christopher Carlson refused to give his three grandsons food and water during two Grand Canyon hikes that took place last August. Carlson’s grandsons, Kevin, 12, Micah, 9, and Kameron, 8, also told police that Carlson hit, pinched, kicked and choked them during a cross-country drive.  The boys also said Carlson shoved them into cactuses and made them drink from the Colorado River, which made them vomit.  After the trip, Micah reportedly had ulcers on his feet from the 7.5 mile hike.  According to what Carlson allegedly told authorities, he was trying to toughen the boys up.  He also allegedly told them to stay quiet about what was going on during the trip.  Police were alerted to the situation after a park ranger became concerned that Carlson was making the boys hike in 100 degree heat.

Prior to Carlson’s sentencing, the boys’ mother, Tara Danaher, spoke in his defense; ”My father disciplined my children. In this particular case, yes, I believe he disciplined them, but I don’t think he abused them.” The children have been taken by the Indiana Department of Child Services and only see their mother during supervised visits.  Carlson, who has been in jail since last August, has received the minimum sentence — the maximum for his charges is 17 years.  Following his sentence, Carlson will undergo one year of supervised release, during which he is to have no contact with his grandsons. Carlson told the court that he did not want to hurt the boys, but instead ”wanted to afford these children a beautiful opportunity at a young age to experience something magnificent.”

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