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TV mum convicted of cruelty for punishing son with hot sauce

AN Alaskan woman was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse after squirting hot sauce into the mouth of her son in what prosecutors said was a ploy to get on a TV show.

Prosecutors said Jessica Beagley (36), of Anchorage, also made the seven-year-old boy stand in a cold shower when he misbehaved. Both actions were recorded on videotape.

Neither Beagley nor her husband Gary Beagley, an Anchorage police officer, showed any emotion when the jury announced its decision. The couple walked quickly from the courtroom and down a set of stairs without responding to questions from reporters.

Beagley could face the maximum sentence of one year in jail, a $10,000 (¤7,000) fine and up to 10 years of probation.

Defence attorney William Ingaldson said his client was faced with a difficult situation dealing with a child with emotional problems when she reached out to the Dr Phil TV show for help. "It is our feeling Jessica was doing the best she could ... this is a very good, loving family," Mr Ingaldson said.

The Beagleys have already been investigated by the office of children's services, which took no further action.

Beagley recorded the punishment on October 21, 2010, for a segment of the show titled "Mommy Confessions."

Beagley's defence lawyer countered that she went on the show because she was desperate to find help for her son, a Russian orphan with psychological and emotional problems.

The video shows Beagley confronting the boy about misbehaving in school and lying, then pouring hot sauce into the crying child's mouth and not allowing him to spit it out for more than a minute.

The footage also shows Beagley forcing the screaming boy into a cold shower before sending him off the bed.