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Paddock discipline was sadistic, expert testifies

Posted June 5, 2008

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— Discipline that a Johnston County woman allegedly imposed on her children amounted to ritualistic and sadistic abuse and torture, a forensic pediatrician testified Thursday.

That included the way Sean Paddock was wrapped tightly in blankets, Dr. Sharon Cooper said during a trial to determine whether the boy's adoptive mother, Lynn Paddock, murdered him.

Paddock, 47, is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 26, 2006, death of 4-year-old Sean. Prosecutors have argued that she wrapped him tightly in a blanket to keep him from wandering at night and that he suffocated.

The defense argues that Sean's death was accidental.

Cooper said she interviewed most of Paddock's five surviving children in the months following Sean's death and that their behavior was typical of victims of child abuse.

"Every single one of these children had significant mental health problems and also some physical health problems," Cooper said.

She also testified that it is not unusual for victims of prolonged group torture to withhold details immediately after they are rescued.

"If they've been abused for more than six months, they become what we refer to as 'conditioned,' and they are not forthcoming right away about things that have happened to them because they're still too intimidated, too afraid."

Jurors also heard from Johnston County sheriff's Lt. James Gerrell, who recalled a 2006 interview with Paddock in which she confirmed what witnesses said earlier in the week about her wrapping the boy tightly in blankets on the nights leading up to his death.

"She wrapped him tight on Friday night," Gerrell said. "She actually wrapped him even tighter on Saturday night."

Sean was found dead in a room in the Paddocks' attic on Sunday morning.

Paddock also used a doll, Gerrell said, to show investigators how she had wrapped Sean in the blankets – something he described as "kind of rough" and "tough to take."

Paddock was not under arrest at the time of the interview, he recalled, but as it continued, deputies arrested her in Sean's death.

She cried, Gerrell remembered, and waived her right to remain silent.

During the pediatrician's testimony, Paddock's attorney called twice for a mistrial.

At one point, prosecutors had Cooper explain, using photos, specific marks and characteristics on the surviving Paddock children's bodies that were indicative of abuse.

The defense objected, citing an improper discovery process, but the judge denied the motion because the photos had already been entered into evidence.

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  • pebbles262004 Jun 6, 2008

    HOW CAN THIS WOMAN SIT IN THAT COURT ROOM AND MAKE NOTES, LIKE SHE IS TRYING TO LOOK LIKE SHE KNOWS WHAT SHE IS DOING...SHE LOOKS SO STUPID....SHE NEEDS TO BE HIDING UNDER THE TABLE FROM SHAME

  • pebbles262004 Jun 6, 2008

    I WOULD NOT LET JACK O'HALE ME MY LAWYER FOR ANYTHING ANYMORE AFTER HIM DEFENDING THIS WOMAN........

  • tarheelnative Jun 6, 2008

    "Sean was found dead in a room in the Paddocks' attic on Sunday morning."

    Am I the only one shocked by this comment? This poor sweet child was sleeping in the attic! This makes no sense at all to me. Didn't the Social Services folks check on the conditions these kids were living in? Who would make a child sleep in the attic, except a sadistic torturer like this woman.

  • shellbelle Jun 6, 2008

    I hope the truth wins out in the end. She is nuts. Hope the children get a new beginning with loving and caring people.

  • Tarheel born Jun 5, 2008

    The most horrific stories are about the murders of the defenseless children and seniors. We all would probably like to inflict our own brand of punishment on this woman. But there's a special place in hell for her and we should try to some comfort in that. It doesn't really help much though.

  • Oct Jun 5, 2008

    Will someone PLEASE tell me how this woman got to adopt all these children in the first place???

  • jcrocker60 Jun 5, 2008

    This woman needs to be locked up and the key thrown away. A poor child lost for no good reason and others scared for life.

  • SpunkyGrits The One and Only Jun 5, 2008

    Hope the kids who survived have a better "home" now.

  • Heatherbrook Jun 5, 2008

    The marks on Sean's body and his death speaks the truth. How about the blankets the authorities removed from the house?

  • doodad Jun 5, 2008

    Simple question. Why would any child need to be wrapped tightly in a blanket? They wouldn't. There is no rhyme or reason for it except for control and abuse.

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