Two men from rural Whatcom County must serve jail time for abusing a child for not doing his chores: they forced him to run for hours on a steep mountain road, struck him with a horse whip when he stopped, and shoved him into a cold stream, according to court records.
The child’s father, Robert Thomas Toy, told his wife that he and Lawrence “Eddie” Larsen were going to have a talk with the boy after school in December 2014. She believed they were going to talk with him about doing his homework, according to her statement to police. He came home around midnight with scrapes, welts, and marks on his arms.
His mother asked Toy how that happened, and he told her that Lawrence, the boy’s step-grandfather, got mad at him when he stopped running – a “form of discipline that was sometimes used” on the boy, according to charging papers filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.
On Dec. 13, the sheriff’s office was alerted through a call placed from Boise, Idaho, and the child told deputies what had happened: Toy and Larsen drove him to Paradise Valley Road southeast of Sumas and ordered him to get out. They told him to run up the steep road for perhaps two or three miles. He stopped when he got tired, and his father pushed him into a cold stream along the road, according to the boy’s account.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
Toy then struck him about three times with an 85-inch horse whip. Larsen was “not happy” with how Toy swung it, according to charging papers. So he grabbed the whip and swung it like a baseball bat at the boy, to make him run again. The boy estimated being whipped 30 to 50 times by Larsen, over the following three or four hours.
The boy took his shirt off to show deputies the deep circular red marks around his arms, from the wrists to the shoulder, and one open cut that had scabbed over. He said he was still in pain.
Larsen and Toy, residents of the Maple Falls area, were arrested and charged that week. Court records show Toy had been married to his wife for six days before he was arrested. She filed for divorce a few months later, and court records outline an ongoing custody dispute involving another child.
Toy pleaded guilty in August to second-degree assault and second-degree assault of a child.
“I’m just sorry it happened,” Toy told the judge in court. “I regret it happening.”
He made no other comments at his sentencing. Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig told Toy his actions evoked “not just punishment, but cruelty – physical cruelty.” He sentenced Toy to six months in jail, as suggested by a plea deal. State guidelines suggest a standard of 6 to 12 months.
Larsen pleaded guilty to second-degree assault. He faced 3 to 9 months in jail. To reach a plea deal, however, he agreed to serve one year of state prison time.
“It was our perception that this defendant (Larsen) was more culpable than the victim’s father, and that’s why the sentences vary the way they do,” a deputy prosecutor, Eric Richey, told a judge at a plea hearing in October. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Judge Deborra Garrett approved the one-year sentence last week. Larsen and Toy had no prior felony record.
Information about how sheriff’s deputies were notified was corrected Dec. 9, 2016.