A Chilling Definition Of Discipline
Wednesday - August 03, 2005
Naeem Williams is innocent until proven guilty. Today he sits in custody charged with murdering his own daughter. He’s also charged with assaulting her, and trying to cover it up.
A military court will sit in judgment and hear all the facts of this sad, sad case. They will listen as he describes what he did to Talia in the final weeks of her short and unhappy life.
I read the transcript of the statement the Schofield Barracks soldier gave to authorities the day after 5-year-old Talia was found dead. Here is some of what he said:
“About 0800, 16 July 05, I got out of bed. I got Talia up to brush her teeth and wash her face. Because she spit toothpaste all over the sink, she got a spanking for that. I took her out of the bathroom and went into her room and I spanked her with my brown Levi belt. I struck her 10 to 15 times.”
Williams left his little girl, telling her to “think about what she did.”
Sometime in the afternoon, he went back into her room. She still had not eaten.
“I saw that she had peed on herself. I asked if she peed on herself and she said, ‘no sir.’”
Williams described making her take off her panties to show him. She had wet herself and he told her to get to the bathroom. She took too long, so he told her to go back to her room.
“When she turned around to go to her room I popped her and she fell to her knees and then fell over onto her face. Then she wouldn’t get up. I told her to get up, but she wouldn’t.”
Williams had “popped” Talia in the small of her back. He said she wouldn’t move, that she was wheezing. He picked her up and put her in the shower, where he ran cold water over her. He took her back to her room and laid her on the bare floor. There was no bed. He had taken everything out of her room some time before, because she had soiled herself.
Williams took a sponge, soaked it with water, and wiped off the blood — Talia’s blood — spattered on her bedroom walls. He said he did not want authorities to think he had been abusing his daughter.
As you know, Talia died. The transcript goes on in chilling, numbing detail. It describes a little girl who lived in terror. It shows a father who repeatedly struck his daughter — with his open hands, his closed fists, and with a belt.
Q: Why did you consistently cause bruising on Talia and cause her to fall?
A: I was just disciplining her.
Q: What was the blood spatter from?
A: From the belt hitting her and cutting her or hitting a cut that she already had on her back from previous hits with the belt.
Q: There were multiple bruises on Talia. Where did they come from?
A: More than likely it was the belt. If there are knuckle impressions on her body they would be mine.
Williams said he hit his daughter just about every day. At first she fought, he said, and “moved around.” Eventually she would drop to the floor when he began hitting her with the belt. It got to the point where she would see him walking away to get the belt — and she would fall to the floor. Why, he was asked, did he hit her so hard?
“No reason,” he said. “I mean, I just … just discipline.”
I spoke with a social worker who has seen the pattern over and over with abused children and their abusing parents. She told me many people just do not understand what discipline really means.
Carolyn Golojuch says discipline “is nurturing. Teaching. Training a child in the way they should grow up.”
Hurting is not discipline, she says. Hitting is not discipline.
Naeem Williams is — of course — legally innocent until proven guilty. So is his wife Delilah, Talia’s stepmother, who is also accused in her death.
But what is achingly, tragically clear — at least to me — is that the one true innocent, a little girl with big brown eyes and a wide, wistful smile, has already served her time in hell.
Talia Williams is with the angels now.
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