An Indiana mother who claimed “religious freedom” to beat her son dozens of times with a coat hanger has been sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to battery.
Kin Park Thaing, a refugee from Burma, cited the state’s new religious freedom law as a defense after she was charged with felony battery and neglect of a dependent, reported the Washington Post.
Police launched an investigation after a teacher noticed dozens of deep-purple bruises on the 7-year-old boy’s body in March, but Thaing asked for the charges to be dismissed in July under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA.
Prosecutors said that was the first time the act, which was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence, had been used as a defense for child abuse.
Thaing argued that she was acting out her Christian beliefs in punishing her child with the weapon, and she cited Proverbs 23:13-14 to claim a biblical directive to beat her children as punishment.
She told investigators that she had beat both her son and daughter with the coat hanger and then asked them to pray afterward for forgiveness.
A Marion County judge denied her request to dismiss the case, but she later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.
Thaing was sentenced Friday to eight months of probation in the case, and she has taken parenting classes to learn more appropriate methods of discipline.