(INDIANAPOLIS) - A grandfather who was charged with child abuse after he forced his three Hoosier grandsons on a harsh hike through the Grand Canyon will soon learn his fate.
Christopher Carlson, 45, of Indianapolis, deprived his three grandsons, Kevin, 12, Micah, 9, and Kameron, 8, of food and water during two separate hikes in August 2011, prosecutors said.
The boys told investigators that they had been hit, pushed, choked, pinched and squeezed during the trips from the South Rim, and were told to lie to park rangers.
Carlson told authorities that he wanted to toughen up the boys. He was taken into custody after National Park Service employees said he forced his grandchildren to walk along a sun-baked trail as the temperature exceeded 100 degrees.
Rangers fed and hydrated the boys and they were placed in the care of Child Protective Services.
In February, a jury found Carlson guilty on three of six charges of child abuse.
During the trial, the 9-year-old testified that the worst part of the trip was when he threw up at the bottom of the canyon and the pain from blisters on his feet.
The blisters were so bad at the end of the second hike they had turned into ulcers, and the boy had to undergo treatment usually reserved for burn patients, prosecutors said.
His daughter, Tara Danaher, the mother of the three boys, spoke on her father's behalf Wednesday.
"My father disciplined my children. In this particular case, yes, I believe he disciplined them, but I don't think he abused them," she said.
Danaher said one of her boys wrote a letter asking the federal judge overseeing the case to give Carlson a light sentence.
"Dear judge, I would like Papa to be in jail for only one more month, it would be nice if you could let that happen," read the letter.
Danaher said she believes her father needs to see a therapist, but doesn't necessarily need to spend more time behind bars. Carlson has been in jail since he was arrested last August.
"At the end of the day, no matter what happened out there, I had no part of it. I didn't do anything. I didn't encourage any of it, and me and my children are being forced to suffer consequences for something we didn't do," she said.
Danaher said the Indiana Department of Child Services is responsible for needlessly keeping her from her children and she's only able to see them for seven supervised hourly visits a week.
"My children are lost in this. They don't understand what's going on or what's taking place," Danaher said.
A federal judge will hand down Carlson's sentence on Thursday. Each child abuse count carries a maximum of life in prison, if Carlson is convicted.
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