SOUTH SALT LAKE — South Salt Lake police investigated a case of alleged child abuse that they say was not so straightforward.
A man accused of whipping his two stepsons with an electrical cord was not arrested and did not lose custody of the children because police said he is an immigrant and didn't understand U.S. law.
An officer recently spotted an 8-year-old boy wandering the streets and asked him what was wrong. The boy showed the officer bruising and welts on his back and arms.
Sgt. Gary Keller of the South Salt Lake Police Department said the boy's 11-year-old brother had the same.
The boys said their stepfather, who recently emigrated from sub-Sahara Africa, frequently whipped them with an electrical cord. Keller said police investigated and learned the stepfather was unaware of U.S. laws or what is considered too harsh according to American standards.
If (new immigrants) want to discipline their children, maybe they should check with somebody and see what's acceptable.
–Sgt. Gary Keller
"He did go too far," Keller said. "We explained the situation to him and he has not been booked into jail at this time. But he will appear in court and answer to the charges."
Sadig Ismail, 29, faces two second-degree felony abuse charges.
Child and Family Services has been teaching him. Keller said Ismail now understands his alleged actions could be considered illegal in America.
"If (new immigrants) want to discipline their children, maybe they should check with somebody and see what's acceptable," Keller said. "But in the heat of the moment, they probably don't reach out like they should. There's not an instruction book for these individuals."
Keller said the boys are doing better.