Woman accused of hitting kids with belt speaks out

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MILTON, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The story has sparked up conversations surrounding the ethics and legality behind punishing children.

The Saratoga County Sheriff says Ashley Abbott went too far when she used a belt to discipline her boyfriend’s children.

Ashley Abbott is defending her actions. She says that she grew up with this kind of punishment and that there was never any malicious intent behind it.

“They were hitting, biting each other. It was utter chaos.”

It sounds all too familiar to most parents. Abbott, the caregiver for five kids, says this Sunday it had her overwhelmed.

“So I told them if they didn’t stop that I was going to spank them with the belt. They continued to fight with one another. So, I took out the belt and I spanked them each once.”

“It wasn’t, you know, spur of the moment, grab the belt and spank the kids,” Vince Le Clair, girl’s father, said.

“When I went to go spank the youngest daughter, she put her hands over her butt and the belt caught her arm which left a red mark,” Abbott said.

“It was disciplining children,” Le Clair said.

Child Protective Services and the Sheriff’s Office saw it differently.

Abbott was charged with child endangerment and felony assault in the second.

Investigators say that welts and bruises were evidence that the punishment was excessive.

“I was told that had I spanked them with an open hand and that no mark had been left that they would not have been there. It was never done with any intent to harm them in any way shape or form.”

Abbott and her boyfriend Le Clair insist the marks were mostly from horseplay.

Her arrest has sparked heated debate on our News10ABC Facebook page, some slamming Ashley, some hailing her actions, and others saying they were treated the same as children.

“I didn’t know that it was illegal. Frowned upon but maybe, but illegal no,” Abbott said.

What is legal when it comes to discipline your child? One investigator says that using any instrument of punishment such as a belt could land you in jail.

Spanking is also an issue says the Chief Executive Officer of Northern Rivers Family of Services.

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