Father gets 110 years for abuse

Son partially blind from head injury
Beasley

A father who abused his two sons was convicted Wednesday and sentenced to 110 years in prison.

It took a Columbia County Superior Court jury about 10 minutes to unanimously find Thomas G. Beasley guilty of five counts of cruelty to children in the first degree and one count of cruelty to children in the second degree.

According to witnesses, Beasley, 33, regularly punched, pinched, scratched and kicked the boys. Punishment also included cold or hot baths, holding their heads under water, and making them maintain painful stress positions for long periods of time.

The abuse culminated the last weekend in March 2008 when Beasley snatched up his 9-year-old son by the ankles and drove his head into the hardwood floor, the youngest boy later told authorities. Beasley and his wife, April, waited two days before taking him to the emergency room.

The boy needed emergency brain surgery to save his life, but he was still left partially blind and developmentally impaired, Assistant District Attorney Kristi Connell told the jury.

When Beasley refused to allow the boy's transfer to an Atlanta hospital for needed medical care, the Division of Family and Children Services went to a judge to get an emergency order, Connell said. The younger boy was then put into foster care. Once free of Beasley, the then-7-year-old began telling what had been going on in their home for years.

The child suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, requiring more than two years of therapy, professional counselor Anne Watts testified.

The boys' teachers and principal at Greenbrier Elementary School testified this week that they suspected the children were being physically abused during their two years at the school.

They described both as very smart and quiet boys who kept to themselves.

If they questioned injuries or asked any personal questions, the boys would make improbable statements and met any further probing with the statement, "You have to ask my father."

The boys were so terrified of taking home any paper graded less than an A that the teachers and principal eventually began covering for them.

At least four times, the school professionals called DFCS. Then-principal Michele Sherman testified this week that she was finally told to stop calling, a request she found unacceptable.

Sherman went to the hospital to see the older boy after the final injury.

"He was a very different little boy," she said. Instead of a bright, articulate child, she found the boy functioning at the level of a 5-year-old, she testified. Besides the head injury, she noticed the boy was missing a tooth. She asked him what happened to it.

"He said 'I can't tell you that.' I said, 'That's OK.' A little while later he said, '(His brother) hit me -- that's what I'm supposed to say.' "

A charge of cruelty to children in the second degree is still pending against April Beasley. She is accused of failing to immediately seek medical attention for her son after the March 2008 injury.