The head pastor of a Black Earth church and his brother have been charged with a total of 12 counts of child abuse, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday in Dane County Circuit Court.
Philip Caminiti, 53, head pastor and elder at Aleitheia Bible Church, and his brother, John Caminiti, 45, also of Black Earth, allegedly hit the backsides of children with rods and dowels. The alleged victims are children in the Caminitis' family and other children whose families are part of the church.
"If you spank early and it is done right, then kids will be happy and obedient," Philip Caminiti told investigators.
He also admitted to instructing parents within the church — which holds services and meetings at his and another member's home — to hit their children on the bare buttocks with a rod because there's a large amount of flesh there.
He told investigators he likes the immediacy of spanking and the Bible says a rod should be used.
Philip Caminiti faces up to 6 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine, or both, for each of the eight counts, which range from June 2006 to November 2010.
John Caminiti told investigators in November he uses a rod or dowel on his two youngest children at home or at church and the scriptures make it clear his behavior is allowed.
He said he does not allow his family to communicate with people outside his religious beliefs and has punished his wife and son by shunning, or confining them to their rooms to have no contact with other family members, until they corrected their disobedience.
For each of his four counts of party of a crime of mental harm to a child, he faces up to 12½ years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine, or both. The penalties for each of his four counts of intentional child abuse are the same as his brother's.