- Associated Press - Monday, September 29, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - The state’s highest court will hear arguments this week about whether a Springfield man accused of restricting his son’s diet and locking him in a bathroom for several days as punishment is guilty of child abuse.

In 2011, Peter D. Hansen, 50, was convicted of abusing one of his children. He’s appealing the ruling to the Missouri Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on Wednesday, the Springfield News-Leader reported (https://sgfnow.co/1tbgoci ).

Hansen was sentenced to three years in prison in 2012, but a judge suspended the punishment and placed Hansen on five years of probation with 100 days in the Greene County Jail.

Hansen, who is a Seventh Day Adventist, said his religion encourages vegetarianism and the boy’s punishment didn’t constitute child abuse.

Prosecutors argue the boy was limited to about two cups of food per day and was punished by being confined in one of the church’s bathrooms. They say there is sufficient evidence to prove Hansen inflicted cruel and inhumane punishment by locking the boy in a small, dark and cold bathroom for days at a time and withholding food.

Hansen said the state’s evidence failed to prove either of those claims. He has denied to police that he withheld food.

Court records show the family was evicted from their home in April 2009 and lived in a car for several weeks before their local church allowed them to live in their building.

“The family had little money, but continued to live by the principles of their church in that environment, eating mostly vegetables, grains, legumes and some fruit, two meals a day, drinking water and exercising,” Hansen’s appeal stated.

Hansen’s daughter also said she was often punished by being isolated from the rest of the family or being restricted from eating “luxury foods like fruit, or butter,” court records state.

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com


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