Originally emailed 16 January 2006
Convicted AT Parent in Prison
After Plea for House Arrest Fails
Mom Forced Restrained Child to Drink Lethal Amount of Water;
Attachment Therapy Pseudoscience Promotes Aversives
Jennete Killpack, the mother who in 2002 killed her four-year-old adopted daughter while engaged in AT parenting, is presently serving her first weekend in a Utah prison on a 1 to 15-year sentence.
Killpack, 30, was convicted of second-degree felony child-abuse homicide last October, for killing her four-year-old adopted daughter, Cassandra, in June, 2002, by forcing the girl to drink one to two gallons of water (victim account) during a single afternoon. Jennete’s husband, Richard, was also tried at the same time on the same charges, but was acquitted. Jurors reported that they considered Mr Killpack abusive along with his wife, but did not conclude that he had participated in forcing water on Cassandra.
Forcing water drinking was an “aversive” technique being used because the girl had supposedly stolen a sibling’s drink. Aversives — which force excessive food or drink on a child to make the child regret bad behavior associated with the same food — are common among those who practice Attachment Therapy parenting techniques. Nancy Thomas, whose training videotapes were found in the Killpack home, advocates use of harsh parenting methods.
Attachment Therapy also promotes the idea that “attachment disordered” children are insensitive to pain (e.g., that a child can shrug off a broken bone). This notion appears to further promote the use of extreme aversives in this child abuse cult.
Cassandra’s death also occurred during the weekend in the middle of a “Two-Week Intensive” for Cassandra at the Cascade Center for Family Growth, a now-defunct Attachment Therapy operation just outside Provo, Utah (see www.kidscomefirst.info).
Immediately after Cassandra died, the Killpacks laid responsibility for the forced gorging on advice from the Cascade Center, but perhaps out of loyalty to their support group, neither Richard nor Jennete mentioned the involvement of Attachment Therapy in their defense during the trial.
Esplin and the Killpacks argued at sentencing that Jennete should not be sent to prison because of the effect her absence would have on her children and on her own mental health. They wanted a form of house arrest instead. The prosecutor in the case, Sherry Ragan, argued that Mrs Killpack should be punished for her crime with a prison sentence, in part to warn others (in the AT community) to not engage in the same kind of abusive treatment of children.
The judge on the case, Claudia Layton, agreed with the prosecution, saying that Mrs. Killpack had “forfeited” her right to raise her children by killing one of them and then by not fully accepting her responsibility for the deed. She sentenced Mrs. Killpack to up to 15 years in prison. The actual time she serves will be determined by the state’s parole board, but it is expected that it will be no less than a year. Most convicts are not paroled unless and until they accept personal responsibility for their crime and show “genuine remorse” for the harm they’ve done.
Esplin, meanwhile, made a last-minute effort to keep Mrs Killpack out of prison pending her appeal. It was not successful and she was incarcerated on Friday.
Mr Killpack will remain at home, with the couple’s four biological children, while Mrs Killpack serves her prison term. There are no indications that Utah child-welfare authorities will attempt to remove the children from the home as a consequence of the conviction or the finding of child abuse regarding the treatment of Cassandra in the home.
Caution: links may have aged since this AT News was first emailed.