Calif. dad pleads guilty to tossing son off boat

Posted at: 01/09/2012 4:07 PM
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(AP) SANTA ANA, Calif. - A drunken father who tossed his 7-year-old son overboard in a busy Orange County harbor, forcing another boat to veer to avoid hitting the boy, pleaded guilty Monday to felony child abuse and endangerment.

Sloan Briles, 35, of Irvine avoided jail by accepting a plea deal. He was sentenced to three years of probation, one year in a treatment program for child abusers and six months in a residential alcohol-treatment program run by the Veterans Administration.

Prosecutors unsuccessfully sought jail time.

Briles’s attorney, Brian Gurwitz, said the sentencing offer was appropriate.

"What he admitted is that he did something that put his son at great risk while he was intoxicated," Gurwitz told the Orange County Register (http://bit.ly/zfV6rh).

Briles also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of resisting an officer.

Authorities said that Briles, his two young sons and his girlfriend were on a harbor cruise in Newport Beach on Aug. 28 when the drunken man poked his 7-year-old in the chest and repeatedly slapped him in the face.

The boy cried and asked his father to stop hurting him.

"Briles then picked up the little boy and threw him approximately 10 feet over the side of the boat," according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.

"There were lots of other boats in the water," district attorney’s spokeswoman Farrah Emami said.

The cruise boat maneuvered to block other boats from hitting the boy, but at least one had to veer off to avoid the youngster, who was treading water until he was thrown a life ring.

Another boat picked him up.

Angry passengers began yelling at Briles, who jumped into the water to avoid them but did not try to swim to his son’s aid, prosecutors said.

He was pulled back on board but struggled with sheriff’s deputies, then went limp and had to be dragged from the cruise boat to a Harbor Patrol boat, authorities said.

Briles later told reporters that he and his son were only roughhousing.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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