A Black Earth father who followed the teachings of his church pastor brother by beating and emotionally abusing his own children was sentenced to a year in prison Thursday.
Dane County Circuit Judge Sarah O'Brien said John Caminiti, 45, doesn't comprehend "the depth of his abuse" of his children, despite apologies to the children and promises never to hit them again.
Caminiti belongs to the Aleitheia Bible Church in Black Earth, which is led by his brother, Phil Caminiti, 54. Eight people associated with the church have been charged with child abuse for their use of corporal punishment advocated by Phil Caminiti in his role as the church's leader.
John Caminiti received a year in prison and seven years of extended supervision for causing mental abuse. Caminiti was accused of "shunning" a teenage son, confining him to his bedroom for a month for having feelings that the boy described as pressure and fear.
By not being in control of his emotions, Caminiti told authorities, the boy was being selfish, and selfishness is a sin.
O'Brien also sentenced Caminiti to concurrent eight-year terms of probation for striking two of his other children with wooden dowels for being disobedient or "grumpy."
Caminiti will not be allowed to have contact with his children while in prison, and while on probation his contact with them will be restricted, O'Brien said.
His lawyer, Daniel Stein, argued that taking Caminiti out of his children's lives would be devastating to them. But Dr. Anna Salter, a clinical psychologist and child abuse expert, testified that she believes Caminiti would continue controlling them and hindering their emotional development if not separated from them.
In court, Caminiti said he was thankful that authorities, including Dane County Human Services, have become involved in teaching him how to become a better father.
But O'Brien said the services that the family is receiving are not enough to convince her that Caminiti will change if he is allowed to remain with his family.
"The service the family is getting is like putting a Band-Aid on a cancer," O'Brien said. "It's not sufficient to undo what he's done to these children."