Mark J. Seamands, a Washington State man going through a divorce, decided he’d do a little something to bring his family closer together. So he branded his two teenage sons and daughter like cattle. Seamands himself had been branded, so he figured passing along the family tradition was the least he could do for his kids. The brand, by the way, was an “SK”, standing for “Seamand’s Kids.”
As you might imagine, this caused quite a stir–especially with the kids’ mother–and Seamands was arrested on second-degree assault charges. But Mr. Seamands has been acquitted on those charges, and the jury deadlocked on two lesser charges of fourth-degree assault, so the judge declared a mistrial.
During the trial, his sons, ages 13 and 15, testified that they “wanted to be branded” by their dad. The daughter, who was 18 at the time, wasn’t considered a victim because she was legally of the age of consent. I guess she wanted to be branded, too.
The brands are on the youngest boy’s chest, the other boy’s arm and on the back of the daughter’s leg.
I’m not sure what to say ab0ut this other than this family is extremely troubled, and these kids need help. Aside from that, I wonder if this case carries larger implications for how the law will view parents’ abusive treatment of their children. If a parent decides to burn his child with a hot poker, and then convinces the child that she/he should be proud of the scar, will a court find the abuse permissible? Or how about putting out a cigarette on your teenagers’ arms? If the children say they consented to the burns, then how, based on the outcome of this case, can a parent be found guilty?